Roses and thorns: 6/23/19




A rose to all the men and women who serve our country and our community at Columbus Air Force Base. Aside from CAFB's important role in providing for our nation's safety and defense through its training of the next generation of Air Force pilots, the base has enriched our community in numerous ways -- quite literally, in some cases. We are reminded of this by the announcement of CAFB's annual economic impact report for FY2018, which showed the base generated $315 million in the community. What's more, that impact has increased steadily in recent years -- by an average of $9 million to $11 million since 2014. In 2018, there was an even bigger jump -- a $44 million increase. CAFB's role is vital to our nation's national security and our community's economic well-being. We thank them for both. 




A rose to Starkville mayor and board of aldermen for making sure residents' voices are heard as the city considers an annexation plan. Tuesday's public hearing was packed with residents and while it's likely officials who favor annexation didn't necessarily like what they heard -- much of it opposed to the plans -- there is no doubt city officials left the meeting with a greater understanding of resident's objections to the plan. The city will hold a second public hearing on July 2. Whether the city proceeds with the plans as they are currently constructed, alter those plans to address the issues raised by citizens or choose not to proceed, the city will have benefited from this kind of public input. We commend the city for making sure those voices are heard. 




A rose to the Caledonia Board of Aldermen, for their foresight in choosing a better long-term option for providing lighting for its soccer complex. Thursday, the board chose to have LED lighting installed at the fields rather than the less expensive metal-halide lights. The difference in the price was about $30,000. While metal halide lights have been in use for years, they are inferior to LED lighting, which not only provides better lighting, but is more energy efficient, durable and requires less maintenance. For the aldermen, it was the difference between coming in under budget for the project and an overrun. The city will need to find about $19,000 of new money to complete the project, most likely dipping into its reserves. Even so, installing the latest, best technology will ultimately prove to be a wise choice. 




A rose to the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District, which will use a $150,000 grant to help school districts with a large number of students with low literacy test scores. The grant, disbursed over three years, will fund summer reading programs in 2020 and 2021 that will focus on 100 rising second and third graders who have been identified as struggling with literacy, and rising fourth graders who did not pass the third grade reading exam the state requires to advance to fourth grade. The grant will fund salaries for 11 teachers to teach the four-week program both years and will pay for resources specifically designed to advance both reading accuracy and comprehension. We applaud the district for this effort in ensuring that its struggling students excel. The help they receive now may alter the arc of their entire lives.



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