NEW HOULKA, Miss. (WTVA) -- In New Houlka, some residents are hoping the town can cash in by achieving resort status, and they're circulating a petition trying to get support for that status.
Supporters of the measure say that one look at downtown will show you why the status is needed.
They say empty buildings are a symbol of several businesses that have closed their doors and left town over the years.
The thinking is resort status would generate revenue by allowing alcohol sales.
Chris Turner is an insurance agent whose family has been a part of the town's business community since 1905.
He supports a move to give New Houlka resort status, especially with the Tanglefoot Trail that will soon open.
"It's expected that it will have a good bit of tourism. And at present, we can't differentiate ourselves from other towns along the trail without resort status," Turner continued.
Another supporter is salon owner Tina Pullen. She has a petition on display for those who want to sign.
"I think it would give more businesses a reason to come here....And with the Rails to Trails coming through, that would give the people going down through that trail a reason to stop here," said Pullen.
She says she hopes the petition will get the approval of the Mississippi Legislature, which would allow New Houlka residents to vote on the idea.
However, two previous attempts to do so have failed.
The last attempt failed despite the backing of the town's Board of Aldermen.
We talked with several residents in town who would not go on camera but opposed the resort status idea. They said they simply don't like the sale or use of alcohol.
One man did voice his opinion before our camera.
"Because I don't think it's good for the community like this. We're trying to get positive influences out of everything, not negative," said Anthony Pulliam, who said he is the son of a local minister.
The petitioners say they could present the signed petitions to aldermen at their next meeting.