April 28, 2018 11:13:48 PM
A rose to Susan Tomlinson of Starkville, who was named this year's recipient of the 2018 Volunteer Mississippi Outstanding Humanitarian Award by the Governor's Initiative for Volunteer Excellence (GIVE) Awards. The GIVE Awards celebrate the exemplary work of Mississippi's most dedicated citizens. Tomlinson has served over 22 years throughout Starkville and Oktibbeha County through numerous boards and committees, acting as past PTA president, fundraiser and volunteer recruiter that benefits the Starkville School District, First United Methodist Church, as well as many other local organizations. Most notably, Tomlinson was the founder of Starkville's Backpack Meals program that began in 2012 with assistance from the Mississippi Food Network, providing children with nutritious meals and non-perishable food items that are packed directly into their backpacks to be eaten over the weekend. The program now serves over 230 local children grades K-8 each week.
A rose to the Columbus Redevelopment Authority and the Mississippi Department of History and Archives as the two entities work to find a amicable solution to an issue that affects the development of an area known as "Burns Bottom." Progress of that plan is being put on hold as the MDAH conducts a survey of the area to determine how many historic homes are included in the area slated for redevelopment. Those findings are certain to delay -- at least temporarily -- the CRA's work on the project and could substantially alter those plans depending on how many structures the MDAH recommends not be demolished. Not all old structures have value, something the MDAH should keep in mind. Likewise, recommendations from the MDAH may mean future developers must alter their plans to incorporate those historic structures, something we have a good example of in Starkville, where developer Mark Castleberry worked with the MDAH to renovate the old cotton mill, now known at The Mill at MSU. That collaboration turned out to be a win, both for the developer and lovers of history. We hope a similar outcome is achieved here. If so, it will be the result of the two entities working with each other in a spirit of mutual respect.
A rose to all those who have worked to ensure that Columbus remains the top destination for Mississippi's senior tennis players. This weekend, more than 400 players throughout the state arrived for the United States Tennis Association (USTA) 65 and Over State Tournament. The event, hosted by Magnolia Tennis Club, is back for the second year. A veritable army of organizers and volunteers, backed by the support of the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau, have been working on preparations for months to ensure the highest quality of facilities, amenities and, of course, hospitality, which has long been a trademark of the city. More than 75 volunteers, working on 20 committees, have devoted themselves to this effort. Oh, and did we mention the city is also hosting a large soccer tournament this weekend too? We applaud all who have worked so tirelessly on these events.
A rose Beth Jeffers' Sunday School class and First United Methodist Church in Columbus, who have combined to turn an idea into a reality that will provide clothing for men, women and children who are in need.
Two years after Jeffers' class began studying the idea of creating a community clothing closet, the "The Father's Closet" is open and operating, using an empty garage provided by the church. After weeks of retooling, the garage was equipped with racks and shelving, as well as gently-used clothing available to those in need. The Father's Closet is a reminder that churches best fulfill their true mission when their focus expands from the church pews to the broader community. We applaud this effort, along with the work that so many of our churches do in making sure "the least of these" are not neglected. Great job.