Over the past four years, Leesville's historic downtown district has seen a revitalization and renewal through the efforts of Leesville's Main Street program and its board, headed by Main Street Manager Sam Sampson-Kincade.

Over the past four years, Leesville's historic downtown district has seen a revitalization and renewal through the efforts of Leesville's Main Street program and its board, headed by Main Street Manager Sam Sampson-Kincade.

The Main Street program is not specific to Louisiana alone; rather, it is a nationwide initiative committed to historic preservation and community revitalization with regards to downtown areas prone to abandonment, decay and eventual demolition. The program aims to keep these areas maintained, occupied and alive with economic activity.

Of the 37 Main Street programs in Louisiana, Leesville is one of only six that were designated as accredited National Main Street programs, a goal that was achieved through meeting the commercial district revitalization performance standards set by the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Main Street organizations are evaluated annually by Louisiana Main Street, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet 10 performance standards, according to a release issued earlier this week by LMS.

Evaluation criteria determine the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts, stated the release, which include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking programmatic progress and actively preserving historic buildings.

Kincade, who came to Leesville from Ste. Genevieve, Mo. and headed the Main Street program there, said he's ecstatic about the news, but he will not take full credit for Leesville Main Street's success.

"I'm very proud of the board and their leadership," he said.

He attributes the program's success to "hard work by the board and the community coming together because they are proud of Leesville," Kincade said.

Leesville Main Street has accomplished goals set by its board, he said, due to several factors outside the program itself.

"[Our strengths include] collaboration with others, such as the Chamber of Commerce, Kisatchie-Delta and civic organizations that helped with [our] events," Kincade stated.

The biggest obstacle to getting the Main Street program off the ground in Leesville, Kincade said, was "getting over the attitude that nothing was downtown."

This is where encouraging businesses to move, or to start, in Leesville's historic downtown district came into play.

Kincade and his board aren't finished yet, he said. He has a vision for Main Street's future.

"[We're] growing," he said. "We have great things planned."