November 9, 2013 7:37:43 PM
Roses and thorns
A rose to all our veterans, with a special commendation to Columbus Air Force Base, which honored our veterans with a special ceremony and parade in downtown Columbus on Saturday. In our increasingly polarized society, one point all citizens can agree on is that we owe a great debt of gratitude to all our soldiers, active or retired. Saturday's event was the first opportunity to express our thanks, with other events scheduled on Monday's official Veterans' Day holiday.
A rose to the East Mississippi Community College Lions, who defeated Jones CC Saturday in Scooba, 61-24, to claim its second state championship in three years. EMCC hopes to duplicate the feat of the 2011 Lions, who won both the state and national championships. The undefeated Lions, ranked second in the nation, are expected to meet top-ranked Georgia Military Institute in Biloxi on Dec. 8 for the national title.
A rose to Columbus developer Mark Castleberry, who got some good news this week from the National Parks Service, which approved his plans to renovate the old Cooley Building, the centerpiece of the Mill project, a collaborative effort between Mississippi State University and the city of Starkville. Although it is still not known exactly when construction will begin, the NPS's approval appears to be the final barrier. The Mill project had languished for years before Castleberry took over as the new developer last year. Now that the paper work phase is over, we look forward to seeing dirt move on the project, which will transform the Cooley Building into a conference center with office space while adding a 450-space parking facility and a Marriot Courtyard Hotel as well as develop mixed-use parcels in the area near the Russell Street/Highway 12 corridor.
A thorn to Columbus federal programs director Travis Jones, whose lack of attention to detail may have cost the city a $600,000 grant officials hoped to use to refurbish city hall. According to the grant guidelines, applicants had to provide 20 percent in matching funds to quality for the grant. The application the city submitted, through Jones' office, was $20,000 short of the required match. Mistakes happen, we realize, and this was most likely a simple miscalculation. Even so, there's no question that a lack of attention to detail has proven costly for the city. Consider it a painful lesson.
A rose to convalescing Columbus Ward 2 city councilman Joseph Mickens, who hopes to return to his seat on the council at the next meeting on Nov. 19. Mickens, 55, missed the two previous council meetings after having surgery to remove a benign cyst on one of his lungs. "I'm doing better every day and getting a little stronger every day," Mickens said Wednesday. "We're just trying to let it heal, and that's a process."
A rose to Columbus High School swimmer Corey Persons, who turned in a personal-best time of 54:37 seconds to capture his second straight Mississippi High School Activities Association Class II state championship in the 100-yard backstroke. The senior qualified just sixth in the preliminaries, but stormed to the title in the finals. Persons recently finished getting his coaching license. In addition to competing as a swimmer, Persons works as a coach with Swim Columbus. He said his future could include competitive swimming, possibly at Delta State.