Reflecting on 2015, looking toward a new year

Published 7:00 am Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas, readers. We hope you are able to spend at least part of the day with people you love and enjoy some good food.
As the year comes to a close, we would like to point out how fortunate we are here. So far, the violence and the tragedies that seem to occur with greater frequency have not touched our community. In fact, our county seems to be doing better than many other areas of our own state.
Locally, unemployment is down, gas is cheap and Picayune’s fiscal year is starting strong—maybe not as strong as last year’s, but above expectations.
Next year, we could continue to see local economic growth. Mayor Ed Pinero announced last week several regional softball and baseball competitions are scheduled for Friendship Park over the summer—filling restaurants and hotel rooms—and Sen. Roger Wicker announced expanded passenger rail service from New Orleans to Orlando, which may mean more visitors to Picayune.
At the very least, residents will soon have one more easy destination available via Amtrak.
We hope the city leaders invest the added sales tax revenue back into tourist amenities like parks and other public spaces.
Such investments will yield returns in repeated visitors. Likewise, we also hope the city will crack down on property owners along points of entry who do not maintain their properties up to code. Unsightly tall grass and weeds (which violate city codes) are too frequent, and only diminish an otherwise picturesque small town.
Repairs to parks and a crackdown on beautification codes may sound like small things, but they are not.
While we will continue to hope for new and expanded industry in the county, we cannot ignore a large source of revenue for our city—sales tax and tourism dollars.
Therefore, improving the town’s appeal to tourists is just as valuable as improving the county’s appeal to industrial developers. Not to mention, improvements in public spaces and code enforcement improve Picayune for the folks who already live here, too.

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