Roses and thorns
A rose to the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau, which has streamlined its funding for festival/event grants. Previously, the CVB had two tiers for funding — Tourism events, which provided a maximum of $15,000 in grant money and Quality of Life events, capped at $8,000. The two levels of funding has been a source of almost constant bickering, as festival organizers lobbied for the larger grant while board member struggled to determine which festivals fit into which category. The move to a single level of funding — capped at $10,000 — should eliminate much of the bickering while also representing a change in focus. Too much of the CVB’s time and energy (not to mention money) has been devoted to festival funding, which is but one of the CVB’s efforts. We applaud the CVB board for taking a step back and reviewing its goals. Streamlining the festival funding is a step in the right direction.
A rose to Travis Outlaw, a professional basketball player with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, for his $100,000 donation to the Starkville Parks Commission. Outlaw, one of the most talented basketball players the state has ever produced, made the leap directly from Starkville High School to the NBA eight years ago. Since then, he hasn’t forgotten his hometown. Each year, he returns for Travis Outlaw Day, where he works with kids. Friday, the Parks officials held a ceremony to rename one of its building at the Sportsplex in honor of Outlaw. It is, indeed, a well-deserved honor for a star athlete who has never forgotten where he came from.
A thorn to the Mississippi Parole Board, which is scheduled to transfer a known meth dealer to house arrest, even though he should not be eligible for that transfer because he was convicted as a habitual offender. John Murphy, 59, of Columbus has been arrested a dozen times over the past decade, mainly on drug charges. In March, he was sentenced to four years in prison. As a habitual offender, he was not supposed to be eligible for house arrest or probation. Instead, the parole board appears to have simply rubber-stamped his transfer to house arrest. Murphy’s history indicates he is not only a danger to the public, but a danger to himself as well. Placing someone with his track record on house arrest is in the best interests of absolutely no one. The parole board laid an enormous egg in this case. Let’s hope they realize the mistake and reverse the decision.
A rose to North District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, who continues his efforts to make residents aware of programs that can save their money. Last week, Presley came to Columbus to promote a program that lowers gas and utility rates for people wishing to start small businesses. The small business rate incentive program waives deposits and provides a 25 percent discount for small business owners during their first year of operation. Presley hopes that more participation in the program will help extend it beyond 2014, when it is set to expire. While there are some who may object to another “break” for business, it should be noted that Presley’s efforts are geared toward small businesses, none of which are eligible for the tax breaks and give-aways that have become common when luring big companies to the state. Small businesses are our neighbors. Small businesses provide most of our jobs. Anything that can be done to make it easier for new businesses to get off to a good start is good for all of us.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.