Roses and thorns: 11/12/13




A rose to all of our veterans on this Veterans Day weekend.


Saturday's official holiday -- observed on Nov. 11 each year -- honors the roughly 22 million men and women who have served, or continue to serve in our military. That includes a rapidly vanishing population of about 1.8 million "Greatest Generation" soldiers who grew up in the Great Depression and helped win World War II. According to the Veterans Administration, we are losing members of this esteemed group at a rate of 600 per day, so we should not take for granted any opportunity to express our gratitude to these veterans, in particular.


We also honor those veterans who are still in active service, prepared to make the sacrifices often required of a free people. We salute all of our veterans. America would not be America without them.




A rose to the voters in Oktibbeha County, who turned out in impressive numbers for Tuesday's special election. More than 9,600 went to the polls, about 38 percent of all registered voters. The turnout was roughly 1,000 lower than the presidential election last year.


That's an impressive turnout for a special election with a limited number of races. No doubt, the ballot item that asked voters to approve or reject the sale of Oktibbeha County Hospital Regional Medical Center drove them to the polls. Ideally, every voter would exercise their right at the polls, so while turnout was far below that goal, the number of voters who did make the effort is large enough to be representative of the people's will.



A rose to LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins, for this efforts in mediating a dispute between the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors and the Columbus City Council, an effort that may determine the continued existence of the county's 2-percent restaurant tax and the Columbus Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau, which relies on the tax for almost all of its funding.


Last week, the two bodies passed separate, conflicting resolutions to extend the tax, which is set to expire on July 1.


Since the Legislature requires a joint resolution, the failure to agree on the terms of the resolution could be the end of the tax and the CVB. While Higgins has a direct stake in the survival of the tax (the LINK receives approximately $250,000 from the tax), the importance of renewing the tax goes far beyond his interests.


With both the county and city showing no desire to negotiate an agreement, Higgins may be the only person who could bring both groups to the table. We hope the supervisors and councilman will respond to his call.



A rose to Annie Barry, the Columbus Police Department and the Salvation Army for their efforts to expand the reach of the city's "Turkey Drive,'' to serve 1,600 residents who might otherwise miss out on the holiday meal.


When Barry began making meals for elderly and disabled residents in 1994, she was able to make only 50 plates. Since then, the Turkey Drive has grown into a tradition.


Now, thanks to the support of the CPD, community volunteers and, for the first time, the Salvation Army, the effort to reach even more people gets a big boost.


Barry, CPD community relations officer Rhonda Sanders and Salvation Army Commander Jennifer Graham are already taking names and addresses from the Columbus Housing Authority, medical professionals and apartment complexes. As some volunteers prepare the plates, others will make deliveries. This year, about 200 meals will be set aside for families or individuals who are in need but able to make the trip to Stokes Beard.


To submit the name of an elderly or disabled person in need of a meal, call CPD at 662-244-3510 or 662-244-3528 or contact the Salvation Army at 662-327-5137.




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