April 4, 2013 10:11:55 AM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
A pending bill that would rename a portion of Mississippi Highway 25 in honor of former Mississippi State University President Donald Zacharias was sent back to a legislative conference committee Wednesday.
It is unknown when legislators will again meet on the matter. A call to State Rep. Joey Hood, R-Ackerman, went unreturned Wednesday. Hood represents portions of Choctaw, Grenada, Oktibbeha and Webster counties.
As originally filed, HB 1290 simply called for the designation of Warren County's portion of U.S. Highway 61 as "The Purple Heart Trail."
Amendments originating from Monday's conference committee made several changes, including a call for all of U.S. Highway 61 to be called "The Military Order of the Purple Heart Trail," and the renaming of Mississippi Highway 25 from the beginning of Starkville city limits to its intersection with Louisville Street as the "Dr. Donald W. Zacharias Memorial Highway."
The possible Zacharias Road designation emerged last month when Hood sought a resolution from the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors supporting such a change. The board unanimously supported the motion at its recess meeting.
"Dr. Zacharias meant so much to the MSU family," Hood said last month. "We should honor him and his legacy for the university and the city of Starkville."
The roadway designation would be the second such local honor in the past two years. A 2011 designation honored longtime MSU sports announcer Jack Cristil's career and dedication to the university by naming a portion of U.S. Highway 82 between the bypass and the northern campus entrance after the legendary voice of the Bulldogs.
Other potential designations are also hanging in the balance after the bill stalled Wednesday.
Conference amendments would also designate portions of Mississippi Highway 9 in Choctaw County as the "Phyllis A. Grahm-Steven B. Moss Memorial Highway," U.S. Highway 90 in Jackson County as the "Scott E. Pruitt Memorial Highway," Mississippi Highway 15 in Jasper County as the "Tommy Bryan Hosey Memorial Highway," Mississippi Highway 25 from Iuka to Belmont in Tishomingo County as the "Governor John M. Stone Memorial Highway" and Mississippi Highway 9 from Sherman in Pontotoc County through Calhoun County to the Webster-Choctaw county line as the "Dennis Murphree Memorial Highway."
Zacharias, the second-longest serving MSU president, died March 3 of complications from multiple sclerosis after an extended illness. He was 77.
"I saw things in Mississippi State University that others might not have seen. I felt that I had made the right decision to be at this university because I liked both what it stood for and its overall character. I liked its mission, and I liked the students and alumni. I saw the potential," Zacharias said upon his resignation in 1997.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch