CAMDEN By BRADLY GILL
Shelby Stone was scrolling through Instagram when she saw a post that caught her eye. Ben and Erin Napier, the stars of HGTV’s ‘Hometown’, were looking for areas to revitalize for a show set to debut in 2021 ‘Hometown Rescue’
Stone seized the opportunity and sent an essay to casting directors.
Stone told the Camden News her essay consisted of, “Basically just how a lot of people have been trying to revitalize Camden and bring it back, and that they’re doing a really job of that. We have probably what is one of the largest industrial parks in the state, yet a lot of people don’t want to live in Camden for some reason. I think if they would live here and y’know spend their money there I think Camden could really grow, but so many people that work in that area they don’t do that. They’ll travel upwards of two hours to work at Lockheed or Aerojet and they won’t live here.”
Stone also said her essay detailed the history of Camden, such as its connection to Grapette and Camark pottery. As well as the heyday of the town and it’s growth as a port town on the Ouachita. Her essay also included Camden’s economic downtown and population decline after the closing of the International Paper mill almost 20 years ago.
Stone said that her goal was to “let them know what a shining star we have. It just needs a little polishing.”
About two weeks later, Stone was contacted by a representative from HGTV that told her Camden was being considered for the program.
Camden Mayor Julian Lott said, ” “I think it will be a great opportunity for us to improve on 12 properties here. It will also be a great opportunity for us to sell Queen City to a national audience.”
In the meantime, Stone has published the Hometown Rescue Camden Facebook page where residents can post ideas for businesses and homes that could use renovating.
The show is asking for
• Six or more businesses that need a facelift
• Six or more architecturally historic homes needing a renovation.
Stone urges that the community become actively involved in the project.
She said, “When I talked to the casting director, she said that they are looking for lots of excitement, lots of energy from this project and they are really looking for good stories. Stories that would capture America’s heart like they always do on those kind of shows. She’s really looking for a lot of excitement….I’m really hoping that this blows up and that people get behind it and support us and whatever the outcome may be, that Camden can still be revitalized into what we know it can be.”
Stone must submit the materials to HGTV by December 6.