Roses and thorns: 03/01/20




A rose to event organizers, city leaders and citizens who turned out for Monday's Ward 4/Southside neighborhood meeting at City Hall. The meeting was organized after a shooting on Southside earlier this year, but citizens were able to share their concerns about a variety of topics with city leaders, including Mayor Robert Smith, Ward 4 Councilman Pierre Beard and city department heads. During the meeting, citizens raised concerns about neighborhood issues, especially street conditions. During the meeting, citizens citied inefficiencies and flaws in the city's recently adopted "SeeClickFix" program, an internet-based tool the city uses to address problems that emerge in the city, everything from potholes to missing stop signs or clogged storm drains. We appreciate the tone of the meeting. What might have been a gripe session instead was useful conversation. We have no doubt the discussion will help the city better meet the needs of the residents.



A rose to Terri Doumit and her group of volunteers known as "Operation Colony Cats," for their positive approach to the feral cat problem. Operation Colony Cats seeks to spay and neuter as many feral cats as possible to reduce stray populations in Lowndes County. That improves the lives and health of the cat colonies, benefits the community and lessens the strain on the Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society. In addition, through networking with other organizations, they try to find homes for as many adoptable cats as possible, primarily kittens. Doumit's program closely models that of Noxubee County's Jeannette Unruh, who has worked with Sweet Paws for years to send adoptable dogs to New England, where the demand for the pets is high. It's a win not only for the communities and shelters plagued with unwanted animals, but a win for the animals themselves. We urge all animal lovers to support these efforts.




A rose to Zachary's for being awarded the Mississippi Restaurant Neighbor Award for the third consecutive year. No doubt, this most recent award, presented by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, is especially meaningful. Despite a devastating fire that closed the restaurant for months, owner Doug Pellum and his staff raised more than $33,000 for local and national causes, devoting 2,600 volunteer hours in that effort. In addition to the generous support Zachary's provides the community -- it's become a go-to venue for a variety of charity and fund-raining events. It sets an example of what it means to be a good corporate neighbor, no doubt inspiring other businesses in their own community efforts.



A rose to the good work our local Habitat For Humanity organizations continue to do. Last week, the Starkville Habitat for Humanity announced plans to build three more houses for qualified families for whom the dream of home ownership might remain just that, a dream. With the support of Mississippi State's Maroon Volunteer Center, which sponsors a home build each fall, Starkville Habitat has built 68 homes since it came to town in 1985. Three years later, The Columbus Lowndes Habitat for Humanity opened in Columbus. The Columbus Habitat is now working on its 51st home. Both organizations rely on an army of community volunteers and, of course, the home-purchasers themselves, who invest sweat equity in the build. Home ownership provides financial, physical and psychological help like few other things. For the new home-owners, it's far more than a structure built of brick and wood. It's about building a better life. Our communities are blessed to have strong Habitat organizations and the dedicated volunteers who help make their work possible.




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