Hope for the New Year

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 30, 2015

At this time each year we take a moment to reflect.
It’s natural enough to remember the year that just passed, but we ought to take a moment to look ahead, too.
In Picayune, I suspect the big news will include the likely rate hikes for water service in the city and sewer and/or water rates (depending on where you live) from the Pearl River County Utility Authority. As we’ve noted before, these rate hikes will be used to pay for necessary infrastructure improvements, and it’s quite possible the rate hikes will not affect many of the users. I have seen firsthand what the local cost can be for failure to maintain infrastructure, so investing in repairs now can help avoid costly problems in the future. I hope that if the rate hikes are proposed in a fair and graduated manner, there will be little opposition.
Improving our infrastructure helps not only residents, but it proves to potential businesses that our community can take care of itself and offer reliable services.
In addition to businesses, I hope our city increases its efforts to attract tourists. One way to do this would be to apply for historical markers. Any group can apply to the state, so long as they can raise the funds and the marker commemorates something at least 50-years old. The markers themselves won’t attract tourists, but they’re a good way to show visitors the history of our community. The stories we tell about Pearl River County help shape the community in the minds of visitors. Our community is currently diminished by its lack of markers.
Then there is the Blues Trail. Across the state, communities fight to find any connection to the blues in order to request a Mississippi Blues Trail marker. Currently there is no marker for Luis “Gearshifter” Youngblood, who was born in Picayune and lived in the area for part of his life. Youngblood has toured Europe and was featured in blues films. Beyond that, he is a living musical link to Tommy Johnson, the well-known pre-war blues musician. To be honest, I was surprised he’s not invited back to town annually as part of the fall blues event, but a marker would be a nice way to honor a Picayune native and it might get a few blues tourists out this way.

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