By: Michelle Allen, Roxanne Kammer, and Jennifer Sherburn
What do renovation, the HGTV television channel, and the Village of Hesperia, Michigan have in common? A group of caring and motivated residents are putting together an application for HGTV's next big series called “Home Town Takeover” in hopes of revitalizing our small community. In order to qualify, towns must have fewer than 40,000 residents, "great architecture longing to be revealed," and a main street that needs a facelift.
The Village of Hesperia, which has approximately 900 residents, is surrounded by the Manistee National Forest and situated on the White River with some of the best fishing in the region. The Village is also unique because two Michigan highways intersect in the center and is shared by two different counties--Newaygo and Oceana. Although it has great outdoor activities, the Village certainly has some historic homes and storefronts that could be transformed.
Lifelong resident and retired teacher Sara Kraley is part of the team collaborating on the Village's application. She said, "In addition to the renovation of historic homes and downtown storefronts, we hope HGTV will also consider improvements to the areas surrounding the river. Hesperia’s rich history and also its future is inexorably linked to the White River. Improvements made to our parks, the dam, the ‘swimming hole’, the sports park, and the islands have the potential of putting Hesperia on the map as a premier tourist destination. A bustling tourism industry would encourage additional business opportunities and growth." Additionally, recent Hesperia graduate, Anastasia Klimovitz, digital creator at Zara Creative, is helping the team put together a professional video to showcase both what is loved about the Village, as well as what "needs love.”
Lacy Anderson Stoneburner is collaborating with the team and shared that she grew up in Hesperia and decided to move back when her husband retired from the military. She reported that after living in multiple places around the US, Hesperia was home and where she wanted to raise her family.
Only six towns will be selected to be featured during the series and the deadline is February 7th. Also, working on the Village's application are Julie Burrell, Monica Grimard, Michelle Allen, Kristin Balkema, Kristen Worchester, Roxanne Kammer, and Jennifer Sherburn. Sherburn said, "Just working together on this project has been wonderful. It really goes to show how much love and support there is out there to make Hesperia the best it can be and how many people love living here, working here, and enjoying all the things a rural, small West Michigan town has to offer."
“Many people who reside in Hesperia have such a heart for our community, but do not have financial means to improve their homes or business store fronts - this is a perfect combination for HGTV!” Burrell said. “An investment in Hesperia is an investment in our future, and will further support continued growth for our community.” Regardless of winning or losing, this project will give Hesperia a foundation to continue building the Village up and focusing on identified needs.
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