Don’t get me wrong, I love my hometown of Southaven. I visit as often as I can to see my family and my friends. However, after a point, the traffic gridlock and impersonal rush of activity wears on me, and I know it is time to head south – home.
Moving to this area was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve got a job I love, met some pretty awesome people, made some great friends, settled down and started a family. I find life in Carroll and Montgomery Counties pretty dang sweet.
Of course, every community, especially those like ours with limited resources, have needs – upgrades to aging infrastructure, more jobs, more housing options, and so on. Every community has room for improvement, just as every community has its own set of challenges. Trust me, the grass isn’t always greener.
So often in Carroll and Montgomery Counties, I hear calls for industrial development; more jobs; a larger variety of shops and stores; and the need to clean up and fix up commercial areas and neighborhoods. Most communities in Mississippi, and across the country, would love a heaping dose of all those things. The problem is that citizens in these communities are often apathetic to the many needs. To progress, there is much to be done, and as always, few are willing to chip in.
Every one of us can make a difference in this community. To do that, we must act.
• Shop local. If you want to strengthen the local economy, fund infrastructure improvements, give back to the schools, support local businesses, shop local. By shopping in this community, you invest your sales tax back into the community. Want additional businesses to come to town? Show them that an investment into this community is a wise one.
In my opinion, you will not experience greater customer service anywhere than what is offered in our local businesses.
• Make your own investment. The law prevents local governments from making improvements to private property. For business owners to improve or expand their businesses, the burden lies with them. However, there are grant opportunities for business expansions. There are also tax credit programs available for business owners wishing to restore historical storefronts. There are opportunities out there if you are willing to look for them.
• Volunteer. I have served on more planning committees than I can count. On every committee on which I have served, there is one common theme – lack of volunteers.
• Go to the source. Cars speeding down Summit Street in Winona or failing to stop at the stop sign at Lexington and Washington Streets in Carrollton? Potholes making the drive difficult? Voice your concern to those who can do something about it. Meetings of the Boards of Aldermen in all six municipalities in Montgomery and Carroll Counties are open to the public, as are the Boards of Supervisor meetings and the school board meetings. In so many cases, those who can fix a problem are not even aware there is a problem.
• Participate. I had a conference on the same day as the annual Taste of Soup event held in Carrollton this year. I was so disappointed, as that is one of my favorite events in the area. The Carrollton Community House is always packed with people sipping soup and socializing. So much fun.
I can say the same about this year’s Fourth of July Celebration in Winona. Front Street was packed with people, enjoying live entertainment and various foods for sale. Kids were playing in the spray of the fire hydrant and slipping down the water slide. Everyone had such a great time.
There are so many great activities in Carroll and Montgomery Counties – the Carrollton Pilgrimage and Pioneer Day, Big Sand Creek Festival, Vaiden Fall Festival, the Crossroads Fall Festival in Winona, Bogue Creek Festival in Duck Hill, the Grassroots Blues Festival in Duck Hill, Hill Fire, library programs, gospel singings, and on and on.
There is always something going on. Just check out the Calendar of Events on page 17. I’m sure you will find something that will suit your fancy.
In the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”