November 23, 2011 7:20:00 PM
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, as we look at our communities and their challenges, we'd like to offer a bit of optimism.
In Columbus, we are anxiously awaiting the opening of a sprawling soccer park.
We also are muddling through the search for the next police chief.
The Starkville police have their own challenges. They work in a building that's not only old and outgrown, but on occasion inadvertently serves as a sewage reservoir for City Hall.
But, as we said, we remain optimistic.
This time next year, we predict, our list of things to be thankful for will look something like this:
We are thankful for the new Columbus police chief. He was able to restore a sense of calm to the Friendly City after a cluster of violent crimes in 2011 had us all edgy.
Not long after his appointment, things got quiet.
He was even able to implement driver's education into a local police academy. We estimate that move alone saved the city $20,000 in cars they did not lose or repair due to hydroplaning into one another or being driven into standing pools of rainwater.
We are thankful for the downtown Columbus soccer park, which is an attraction for many more reasons than soccer.
In a surprise move, the city of Columbus and Lowndes County decided to fund the addition of an outdoor classroom, walking trails, suspension bridge and a waterfall. The park is eye-catching for all the right reasons, as you come into town from the west. And aside from local soccer games, it has played host to regional tournaments and even community concerts.
We are thankful the residents of Starkville rethought voting down plans for a new police department. The new space boasts interview rooms and a large meeting room for briefing and debriefing. (Sewage, thankfully, remains in its rightful place.)
We are thankful for the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors' newfound tranquility.
We hear Whirllie Byrd has offered Mark Castleberry and Bart Wise seats of honor at her Thanksgiving table this year.
Well, we can dream, can't we?