December 12, 2009 10:20:00 PM
The weather outside was frightful, but the parades were still delightful ... Roses to all those who braved rain and cold over the past two weeks to participate in and watch local Christmas parades. Frigid temperatures nor icy rains didn''t keep area residents from enjoying the holiday cheer.
Congratulations also go to the winners of area parade contests.
And special thanks to Vee Ferguson and Mother Goose, aka Edwina Williams, for their help with The Dispatch''s entry in the parade.
Columbus'' "A Hometown Christmas"
Starkville''s "Classic Country Christmas"
Roses to the West Point High Green Wave football team for winning the state 5A title with its 14th consecutive victory.
Saturday, a week ago, the Green Wave trounced Wayne County 35-14 in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A state title game at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Under the leadership of Coach Chris Chambless, West Point''s team has worked hard all year to help themselves to the school''s sixth state title in the program''s history.
A thorn to West Point selectmen for delaying the inevitable by not making much-needed budget cuts. Twice last week the board declined to make any decisions to balance their budget.
One option being vetted is cutting incentives packages for city workers. The city pays a total of about $43,000 to city employees just for not calling in sick. A recommendation by Mayor Scott Ross to suspend the attendance bonus seemed to fall on deaf ears. The board took no action on the matter Tuesday, and a motion made by Ward 4 Selectman Keith McBrayer to suspend the incentives for the year died.
The deadline for this proposal passed Saturday.
Other suggestions: Stop distributing free trash bags to city residents (a $75,000 savings); stop the city''s 100-percent payment of employee health insurance premiums ($400 each month for each employee).
Actions taken: None.
But the selectmen are known for dragging their feet on pressing matters.
Last year, for instance, the board kicked around a $3 million plan for street repairs and recreation improvement that didn''t see action until this April. They formally expressed their intent to borrow the money in June 2008. And after getting a backlash from city residents opposed to spending the money on new tennis courts and a skate park, the selectmen repeatedly -- month after month -- kept putting off making a decision.
Finally, on April 14, the board approved a $1.95 million bond issue for street repairs, striking the recreation portion from the plan.
The city finished the last fiscal year $700,000 in the red. If its leadership stays poised to do nothing, the city could be digging itself into a deeper hole.
Roses to Columbus and Starkville school districts for their efforts to clear the air. Columbus schools spent $2.9 million to purchase 30 new low-emission buses, replacing half the district''s fleet. The remaining buses will be retrofitted to lower their emissions. A $1.45 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant helped with the process.
Twelve school buses in Starkville also are easier on the environment after a Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality retrofit. Diesel oxidation catalysts were installed to help reduce particulate matter in tailpipe emissions, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide.