Recent accomplishments and reflections on history

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 28, 2014

By Jim Luke

Guest Columnist 

I would like to reflect on the accomplishments of this past year. Mayor Pinero and the City Council members have laid out a vision of prosperity for our community while preserving our heritage.

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I was proud to recommend to Mayor Pinero and City Council the Pearl River County Historical Society be given its first public home. On Dec, 3, 2013 Mayor Pinero presented President Gex keys to the newly approved Historical Society space in the old Historic City Hall. The key ceremony represents the first time the Historical Society and the City of Picayune have partnered for preservation of our heritage. The space may be used for storage, display/museum or meetings and will do much for the viability of the Historical Society.

Mayor Pinero and the City Council’s vision of returning to the original city hall site in the core of our historic district became a reality on May 3, 2013. We have added cobblestone parking, and nostalgic, ornate streetlights and signs in our Historic District. The Plaza Garden with its brick pavers, lighted fountain, and Rotary clock continue to invite our citizens in to the new city hall. We will soon begin phase two of expanding this footprint of ornate signs and lights in our historic district. Soon a Welcome to Historic Downtown Picayune sign will be placed on the grass island at the intersection of Main Street and Goodyear Boulevard. The grass island will have cobblestone and flowers all around it.

Now let’s touch on Picayune history. Old timers say many years ago Choctaw Indians lived in abodes in the general area of where Picayune City Hall and First Baptist Church now stand. I recently read from the archives of city minutes that on the Jan. 6, 1920 the mayor and alderman voted to accept Goodyear Boulevard and the Williams Goodyear Addition to the town of Picayune. A 20-foot strip of land in the center of Goodyear Boulevard was kept by R.J. Williams to construct a streetcar line, continuing a cosmopolitan idea put forth by James Labron Megehee and Julius Simmons in their 1901 founding document of Picayune. The streetcar line was never built but the center median of Goodyear Boulevard was preserved for that purpose. The line never materialized, probably because of the Depression or World War ll.

I go back in time to June 13, 1911, when the town marshal was ordered to erect hitching posts on principal business streets. No longer could citizens tie their horses to shade trees along the streets and sidewalks. As you may have noticed, there are two majestic live oaks on the southeast end of the hospital property. These monumental live oaks have been reported to be as old as 225 years old, and the smaller one around 190 years of age. This means there may have been folks in the shade of those trees watching Picayune’s first football team, the Cubs, practicing in 1922 where the

old Crosby Hospital was located.

Demolition of the Old Crosby Hospital is complete and we will give a report to Mayor Pinero and the City Council at the March 18 council meeting. Mayor Pinero will begin to lay out the vision for this green space in coming months.

Jim Luke is the City Manager for the City of Picayune