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Steve Mullen: Pardon our progress …


Steve Mullen



Welcome, visitors to Columbus! Jump on board our red double-decker tour bus here, for a quick trip around our historic city. This isn''t the tour we had originally planned, but recent events have caused a slight change to the program. 


We''ll get on here, at the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center. To your left, we can see the historic, old Highway 82 bridge. Beneath the bridge right there, on a sunny afternoon, the day before April Fool''s, in front of assembled state and local dignitaries, the Board of Supervisors were informed that they owed $200,000 on a $2 million state grant to turn the bridge into a pedestrian promenade. 


As it turns out, the county says they don''t have the money for the match. (If our supervisors were students of history, they''d know that they approved the match several years ago, but are now finding a legal reason not to pay.) 


Please don''t ask where the bridge goes. No one wants to go there, on foot or otherwise. Still, it will be a nice $2 million stroll to get there. We could say the bridge is part of a master plan for development, if we had one. Rest assured we''re working on it. 


While we''re over here, look across the street to historic Burns Bottom. We''re going to build soccer fields there. The soccer fields have been talked about for so long, no one, including our eldest historian, remembers how it all started. We believe discussions started around the time soccer was invented. The city and county don''t necessarily have money for that either, but it''s going to happen. It''s actually going to turn out nice. 


Let''s turn our attention to City Hall, down the street here. Note the architectural accents. If you peer closely into the entranceway, you may spot the mayor and a councilman punching and strangling one another. Yes, there they are! You''re a lucky group; they don''t appear for everyone. Did I mention we are known as the Friendly City? 


Over here, behind City Hall, is our historic Lowndes County Courthouse. There on the front lawn, notice two of our supervisors bumping their bellies and arguing over an issue that no one particularly cares about. At least they appear to be on speaking terms today. Some of the supervisors aren''t. 


We''ll turn onto Military Road. This road was surveyed and built following the War of 1812. I hope no one was holding a cup of hot coffee, because your lap is now scalded. We are sticklers for historical accuracy. That''s why the road hasn''t been paved since Andrew Jackson was in office. But this road, like many of our thoroughfares, is a work in progress. Repaving will start any day now. 


We''re coming up on Mississippi University for Women. Our insistence on historical accuracy means that we won''t change the university''s name, even though men have been admitted for the past 28 years. To be fair, the school''s last president saw the writing on the wall, and tried to change the name last year to boost enrollment. But a small group of alumnae derailed the effort. It''s now merging operations and programs with Mississippi State University. Note the period architecture on that abandoned dormitory. 


We''ll travel down the road a bit. Over here is the Golden Triangle Regional Airport and our newly branded Regional Global Industrial Aerospace Park. Admire the shiny new steel, automotive and aerospace firms. We want to put some more on that big empty field over there; we''re courting more than a dozen companies this very day. We hope those new prospects haven''t read the paper in the past week. 


As I said before, this isn''t the tour we wanted to give you. We wanted to show a united community. Our city and county leaders working well together. And, a fully independent university thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, recent history has muscled its way into our annual celebration of the past. 


Normally we''re on our best behavior this time of year. But there was a thing about a bridge, and an argument, and someone threw a punch. 


Pardon our mess. As one bloodied councilman said, this is a "learning moment." 


We also have some antebellum homes.


Steve Mullen is Managing Editor of The Dispatch.


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Reader Comments

Article Comment rita commented at 4/7/2010 9:59:00 PM:

Get your facts right and quite bashing Columbus. This is our town - take it or LEAVE it.


Article Comment MMS commented at 4/7/2010 10:28:00 PM:

As managing editor of the local newspaper, it seems that you would try to point out our strengths and not our faults, especially during a time when we have visitors in our town. Very pessimistic view of our beautiful town. We have many things to be proud of that you could point out. I agree with Rita - take it or leave it - but don't bash it!


Article Comment Matt commented at 4/8/2010 11:32:00 AM:

The situation had been thoroughly covered, but Steve wanted to add his biting commentary. Actually Steve did point out our progress, just that the process isn't always pretty, you'll have that.


Article Comment Bob commented at 4/8/2010 1:14:00 PM:

Editorial gave me a chuckle. Now it's time to stop beating a dead horse and bury it. I certainly don't condone the actions of Mayor Smith and especially councilman Karriem who decided to provoke the mayor at 9:30 PM while the mayor was working with another councilman at City Hall. Not the ideal time of day to get in someone's face! The incident was not professional....but at least not anywhere near as bad as say the antics in Albany, NY with governors Spitzer and Patterson or the disgrace with Gov. Mark Sanford......or the daily disgrace of our politicians in D.C. If folks want to get up in arms, there's a lot more serious issues going on today that demand our attention. I also found it amusing to ee so many people at Monday's council meeting. Let's hope their zeal continues as important decisions are made at these council meetings with a fraction of this week's turnout. If it takes a fight to get people to finally participate in local politics, then maybe something good came out of the altercation afterall.


Article Comment dan commented at 4/8/2010 6:26:00 PM:

Go Disgrace, Beat the horse till he can't get up! Steve has no idea what he is talking about. He has bashed Columbus from his first week here. As Rita stated - you may leave a anytime!


Article Comment Hometowngirl commented at 4/8/2010 6:36:00 PM:

Who hired this clown? And why? No talent! Only writes Bash or Junk! We miss Dave,Anne and Ron. They knew the town and what was REALLY happening unlike What's his name. Oh well he will be gone SOON!


Article Comment amused resident commented at 4/8/2010 6:47:00 PM:

Being a Columbus Resident almost all my life, I am proud of this town. It is so beautiful and is rich in history. However, every town has its problems and the residents should be able to laugh at themselves once in a while! Kudos to Steve for sharing his opinion so openly! Many of us were thinking it, but he had the guts to say it!


Article Comment diane commented at 4/8/2010 9:59:00 PM:

amused resident--- I hope they are treating you well at the "Home". Poor Dear, the fall must have hurt when you hit your head!


Article Comment open your eyes commented at 4/8/2010 11:42:00 PM:

Bashing? I don't see bashing in the article, I read what's happening in a sad, but comical way.
Like it or not you can't blame Mullen for the stupid antics of Columbus. It's embarassing..our wonderful, beautiful town.

Resident, you nailed it.


Article Comment Marvin commented at 4/9/2010 7:48:00 AM:

WHO DO YOU BLAME? Name names !


Article Comment tommy commented at 4/9/2010 9:36:00 AM:

Don't let them get you down steve. That was hilarious. If this town would get off its butt to make some changes maybe we could compete with places like tupelo again instead of west point. (no offense to west point) Thank God we have some people at least that are trying to get some things accomplished (mr.higgins and the CLDL) to make people want to stay here or not leave from here.


Article Comment Sad commented at 4/9/2010 4:53:00 PM:

He is correct about our city. The truth hurts doesn't it.


Article Comment randy commented at 4/9/2010 7:56:00 PM:

Ya'll are talking to "LIB-RAL. You can't get them down. They know what is best for all of us. Birds of a feather you know. We may not be perfect but we are who we are. Who are you?


Article Comment Possum Town Native commented at 4/9/2010 9:24:00 PM:

I believe the point of contention here is that Columbus IS welcoming guests this weekend... the biggest opportunity we have each year to showcase the wonderful and unique aspects of my hometown that many take for granted, but visitors flock to see. I will be coming home this weekend for that very reason and cannot WAIT to be there. The homes, the flowers, the events that oh so many people have worked so hard on. I brag to others of course about it all, rightfully so. I also share with others the frustrations and concerns that are addressed here---but not this weekend. This weekend is when we shine and The Friendly City is the most hospitable in the whole state. There is a time for everything... and this weekend when Columbus welcomes admirers from far and near--and some of us ready to come home for a visit, is not the time to degrade our home. We've got company comin folks... be the wonderful hosts that we are. And that goes double for our hometown paper.


Article Comment resident commented at 4/9/2010 9:47:00 PM:

So you people don't like "outsiders" knowing you keep your retarded step-child locked in the basement, huh?

One of the most annoying things about Columbus, and about this paper and that sad excuse for an editor Birney, is they refuse to admit there is anything wrong in this town. And that refusal to do so is why it never gets fixed. Oh, pay no attention to the rim-bending potholes, and how your car rattles regardless of which street you are on around town. Pay no attention to the trash, the fools uptown who govern us, the inept supervision of the Street Dept., the inadequate drainage system, and the under-staffed Police Department; let's just pass out some roses in the Sunday paper and then plop our heads back into the sand. If anyone speaks up about it we can always invite them to leave.

This is a foolish little town that will never grow up as long as fools are allowed to make excuses for it.


Article Comment Possum Town Native commented at 4/9/2010 9:57:00 PM:

Well "Resident," you seem to be missing the point that it's THIS weekend when Columbus is serving as host to guests, spending their money here... this just isn't the time to hash all of that out. Certainly the time is needed---just wait til company leaves, okay?

And by the way, unless you are locked in the basement too, I would think anyone who feels the way you do and doesn't seem to be looking for progress at all... should find another home. Or maybe you ARE locked in a basement. Hmmm


Article Comment clyde commented at 4/9/2010 10:15:00 PM:

Poor Birney, He just does not get it. There is no way you can get thru to him or any other liberal. They think you can just love each other and give to the ones who do not want to work for what they get. I am always amazed at their outlook on life. If he can walk around Columbus and only see the good. No trash, potholes shortage of police or lack of concern from our City LEADERS. Most of us know the problem but no one will say what should be done. This latest round will be sweep under the rug and all will be well again. The Farmers Market will be open and life is good. Take the monet for the potholes, new roads and drainage problems and paint an old bridge. Now we will feel all better. In 2 - 3 weeks this will just be a bad dream. Now you see why the Packet is doing so well(not because of anything it does). We can do better.


Article Comment tom sutter brown commented at 4/10/2010 2:45:00 PM:

As many small towns everywhere the old saying "everybody knows too much"....a reserved vibe is necessary to survive here....walking on eggshells...afraid to speak up or make mistakes...mullens timing and topic was unnecessary...but that is his job...we are still a deep south somewhat small southern town with old south politics and mores....its changing but "slow change" is our destiny some of that is good some not so good!...take an interest in local current events vote...have an attitude of gratitude and encourage improvement in everything one does!p.s i agree with the lady from the island ,that is what i am talking about...communication / excellent letter... as far as living here everyone knows for sure you can't be in two places at the same time why not make the best of this has a bright future!


Article Comment resident commented at 4/10/2010 3:37:00 PM:

No Possum Town, I'm not in a basement, and I don't put on a false-face just because company is in town. And if business was taken care of like it should be, there would be no reason for you to "hide the ugly step-child" would there? This town has been making one excuse after the other for the last 30+ years and there seems to be no end to it.

As far as the leaving thing goes, you are more than welcome to take a shot at making me. Bring a lunch. I'm not going anywhere.

It's the typical whine of the Southerner: if you don't like the crap we do, then leave. The little piglets would rather remain pigs than take a bath. It shows extreme ignorance. Nevermind you walk around smelling of a soiled diaper, just as long as you can ignore it, and tell others to leave if they don't appreciate your stink.

Looking for progress, you say? I have lived here for nearly 40 years now and all I have ever heard from your kind is "progress this, and progress that" but somehow it never really seems to arrive. Meanwhile, the other towns around you have left your slow-learning bumpkin self in the dust and yet you still cling madly to the idea that you are accomplishing something by ignoring everything around you.

Defending efforts that accomplish nothing, such as, a $2 million plus "sitting bridge", while making excuses for your inability to make any real progress is the hallmark of a fool. We have no shortage of that here.


Article Comment A Person Who Adheres to a Political Ideology commented at 4/10/2010 4:01:00 PM:

It's all the fault of the People Who Adhere to the Other Political Ideology!


Article Comment randy commented at 4/10/2010 5:18:00 PM:

@resident _ give your right name and I will bring a small lunch and meet you. How have you been so brave to take this 40 years. It must have been a real burden to take this all those years. Poor resident - and you still have no name. When the bridge is fix please do not walk on it. Yes it will be fixed even if it is a dumb idea. Hang on for 40 more years of southern charm. If you do leave take your buddies with you.


Article Comment resident commented at 4/11/2010 8:09:00 AM:

Sure you will Randy.

Paint your bridge. Waste your money. It's all you've done up to now so why stop?

I can see it all now. Somewhere on the other side of the country, someone opens a magazine and says, "Look Ethel, Columbus painted a bridge, let's go there."

Dream on Columbus.


Article Comment Randy commented at 4/11/2010 9:09:00 AM:

Well "OLD RESIDENT" Looks like you are still hiding under a bohollow name. Come out - come out where ever you are. Sit in the corner and wet your paints. See Ethel he is all wet! No name no "FAME"! I got the paint and you can't have it. Guess what color it is. No not red "SILLY". Guess again BOOBOO.


Article Comment Mrs. Mary commented at 4/12/2010 12:18:00 AM:

@resident: Even we "slow-learning bumpkin(s)" know it's rude to call mentally challenged people "retarded". I am personally insulted by your portrayal of Columbus residents and Southerners in general. And we Southerners do NOT hide our "club-footed child(den)." We LOVE them and expect others to love and respect them as well. We feel the same about our beautiful town.
If Mullins were really so concerned about what our visitors would read about Columbus, why would he talk such trash about it in the Sunday edition. I'm embarrassed that our visitors know a local journalist feels such contempt for our lovely city.


Article Comment resident commented at 4/12/2010 4:10:00 AM:

You are embarrassed because someone has seen your true self. And spoke about it out loud.

You don't like the word "retard"? What else would you call all that noise Randy is making? I'm guessing he topped out at about the 5th grade or so.

Instead of a town that has a pancake makeup face on it, why not a town that REALLY looks good, inside and out? Quit putting on a mirage and really do it, or go home. This lip-sticked pig is only fooling the people who don't live here daily.

You sir, are standing on a sinking ship while rattling on about how wonderful the breakfast was this morning.


Article Comment Randy commented at 4/12/2010 2:14:00 PM:

Resident Talk to me! Tell me your name. If you don't like Columbus then get the H--- out of it. Need money - call me. Take a bus load with you. No name-no guts! Are you in a dim lit room? Do they feed you well at home? Tell us more about your exciting life. Oh and tell us where you are realy from and who dropped you off here and why they did. Go for it Resident! Show us how great you are behind the rock.(or under it) You seem to know a lot about dressing a pig. Prom Night?


Article Comment local man commented at 4/20/2010 9:21:00 AM:

Where's Stetson Kennedy when you need him?


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