One of my favorite quotes is by American anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
I’ve seen this proven time and again in our community – big things happen when people work together towards a common goal.
This week, the City of Winona and Tyler Holmes Memorial Hospital announced its collaboration to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to Winona. Previously, the Mississippi Department of Health informed Tyler Holmes it would not be one of Mississippi’s hospitals selected to offer the vaccine, however, local leaders joined together to ensure Winona, Montgomery and Carroll counties had a local option in getting vaccinated.
A casual conversation between Winona citizen John Paul Davis with Winona Mayor Jerry Flowers led to Flowers contacting Dr. Keith Rushing with Tyler Holmes, and the two of them hatching a plan to get the vaccine to Winona. Flowers contacted Governor Tate Reeves, Congressman Benny Thompson, and Jim Craig with the Mississippi Department of Health. Rushing contacted retired nurses Angelyn McCaulla and Susan Robertson. McCaulla assembled a team of individuals to work together on the project.
Soon, a date was set for a group of volunteers to work together to administer the COVID-19 vaccine at the Montgomery County Coliseum on May 11.
Sometimes it takes a village to make a goal a reality, and the vaccine project is a prime example of that.
In January, Biewer Timber announced it would be building a $143 million development at the corner of Highway 51 and Sawyer Road in Montgomery County. The new saw mill will provide more than 150 new jobs, and the possibility of additional developments following suit is expected.
When the announcement was made, the community was thrilled with the county being selected by Biewer for its second saw mill in Mississippi. However, what most people don’t realize is the months of work it took to make the development a reality.
Thanks to the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors and the Montgomery County Economic Development District which purchased 300 acres for economic development, the county hit the radar of Biewer’s leadership. Several organizations came together with Montgomery County and the Montgomery County Economic Development District to help seal the deal to bring the saw mill to the area, Mississippi Development Authority, Appalachian Regional Authority, the City of Winona, and ATMOS Energy.
Just this week, the Town of Carrollton received the Mississippi Municipal League’s City Spirit Award for the annual Carrollton Pilgrimage and Pioneer Day. The popular two-day event is organized each year by the Town of Carrollton, the Carroll County Society for the Preservation of Antiquities, and a slew of volunteers. Even those not serving in an official capacity during the pilgrimage get into the community spirit and decorate their homes and lawns with autumn décor to welcome visitors to town, and the Pioneer Day Festival, held the second day of the event on the Carrollton Square, is the place to be for residents, natives returning home for the weekend, and enthusiastic tourist from around the country and the world in some cases.
According to a study by the John C. Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University, the two-day event brings $200,000 on revenue into the community each year. That is certainly an enormous impact for a town with a population of 181, according to the 2019 Census numbers.
Everyone can make a difference, and there are so many things going on locally to lend your support. Right now, there is beautification efforts going on in both counties and in the City of Winona. Vaiden is planning its Heritage Festival for May. The Pilgrimage and Pioneer Day volunteers are already hard at work. The Winona Rotary Club, Junior Auxiliary, the Winona Business and Professional Association, and the Carroll County Development Association are always recruiting new members, and churches have always got mission projects and family activities underway. And the schools! I can go on and on! Even in a pandemic, there are ways to be involved.
Pick one! All it will cost you is a little time and energy, and very possibly, more good things will happen in our wonderful community.