By Curt Yeomans
Jonesboro Mayor Luther Maddox said he hopes people will get a favorable taste of his city's newly-revamped downtown area this weekend, when it plays host to the 18th annual "Taste of Clayton" event.
For the past year, construction crews have been installing new sidewalks, lamp posts, pillars and brick crosswalks in downtown Jonesboro, as part of the first phase of the city's "Streetscape" project. It has regularly caused traffic jams as streets have been blocked off, and vehicles have been re-routed to avoid work crews, but Maddox said those days are now in the past.
There are a few cosmetic touch-ups to be done here and there, but Jonesboro's mayor said he is ready to show off the finished product to all of Clayton County.
"That's how we're going to begin 'Taste of Clayton' -- with a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for 'Streetscape' and our new downtown area," Maddox said.
The mayor said the ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on Saturday, at 11 a.m., at the old Jonesboro Train Depot, which is located at the intersection of Mill Street, and Main Street.
"Taste of Clayton" will take place until 3 p.m., on Jonesboro's Main Street. The event, where local food vendors offer attendees samples from their menus, is being co-sponsored by the city, and Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc., and the Clayton County Visitors and Tourism Bureau. Admission for the event will be $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens over the age of 55, and $5 for children under 10.
This will mark the first time since June 2009 that "Taste of Clayton" has been held. The event is a fundraiser for Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc.
This is also the first time the event will be held away from the grounds of Historical Jonesboro's Stately Oaks Plantation, planners have said in the past.
"It's a perfect time to dedicate our new downtown," Maddox said. "I'm hoping that people who attend 'Taste of Clayton' see that we are actually moving forward and revitalizing the city ... Now, I'm just hoping this economy will continue to turn around, and help us reinvigorate our downtown area."
Maddox said the city is inviting a long list of dignitaries and "VIPs" to be present when Jonesboro's revamped downtown is dedicated. Among those on the invitation list, he said, are former Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day, and former members of the Jonesboro City Council, who served on the council when Streetscape was approved.
Other special invitees, the mayor said, include the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, State Representatives Darryl Jordan (D-Riverdale) and Glenn Baker (D-Jonesboro) -- who represent parts of Jonesboro in the Georgia General Assembly -- and the mayors and city council members from Forest Park, Lake City, Lovejoy, Morrow and Riverdale.
While Maddox talks about the nearly-completed "Streetscape" project as if he were a proud father discussing a child, he said there is one thing he is especially happy about -- the end of the traffic jams in downtown Jonesboro. "It should mean no more street closures, and that will be a blessing to me," he said. "I've had people coming up to me all the time complaining about streets being closed because of construction."
For more information about obtaining tickets to "Taste of Clayton," call (770) 478-4800.