New RHA director plans to put a spotlight on Rogersville's history

Jeff Bobo • Jul 30, 2019 at 5:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — It should be an easy transition for Melissa Nelson into the Rogersville Heritage Association director position because she already plays a key role in many of the RHA's primary functions.

As a member of the Rogersville Main Street Association board of directors, Nelson was already a key planner for Heritage Days, which is the RHA's biggest event of the year.

And as the wife and chief adviser of Steve Nelson, she's already on the front lines of Rogersville's historic preservation efforts. Steve Nelson is Rogersville building inspector who also spearheads local historic building restoration efforts.

Increasing the spotlight on local history

Melissa Nelson told the Times News on Monday that one of her main goals as the new RHA director is to ramp up fundraising and grant writing efforts to restore two of the city's oldest buildings, the Powel Law Office and Rogers Tavern.

Another main goal is to increase the spotlight on local history, which will hopefully increase historic tourism in both the city and county.

“I've always had a passion for the beauty and history of this town,” she said. “I'm on the Main Street board, and all those proceeds go to the beautification programs that we (the RHA) have as well. It's like I'm in the same role, I'm just in a different building. “(Chamber of Commerce Director) Nancy Barker and I will still work together very closely on grants and all the other programs we're already dealing with.”

What do you hope to achieve as RHA director?

“I want to see the Rogers Tavern preserved, the Powel Law Office, and of course the Depot all returned back to their original appearance. Especially the tavern. (The Lewis and Clark connection) is a game changer here. That's now the focus.

Nelson also wants to make improvements to Crockett Springs Park, which is located adjacent to the Rogers Tavern. A few years back, CSP was designated as a state arboretum, but the signs that were posted identifying trees have mostly been either damaged or stolen by vandals.

Another goal is to update and improve upon the RHA's old walking tour of historic locations. She said there are a lot more stories that can be told on that tour, and it can become something that attracts visitors from across the region and state.

Everyone pulling in the same direction

Her past experience in business, civic and governmental programs gives Nelson a good foundation to build on.

She knows her success as RHA director hinges on keeping everyone pulling in the same direction.

“I know the residents. We know each other by name. I know the businesses, and we work great together. And we want to work together to make it a better place. I was an advertising director for 10 years, so I have that footprint already in place. I want to maintain those relationships so we can all come together for the town and make the town a better place.”

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