A rose to the AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers working with area nonprofits. These volunteers, who are usually young adults, are assigned to nonprofit organizations and often work 40 hours a week, receiving a federal stipend of about $11,000 per year for their efforts. This gives these volunteers valuable work experience, as well as opportunities to interact with citizens, often in impoverished areas. The nonprofits get motivated workers they might not otherwise could afford, who share their ideas and talents to strengthen the organizations. It’s a true win-win.
A rose to the Mississippi University for Women for recognizing its pioneers of integration. This week, in a ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of the campus’ integration, MUW President Jim Borsig bestowed medals of excellence to the first five African-American students to enroll there in 1966, including one posthumous award. Not all of their stories were positive, as 1966 Mississippi was not the friendliest environment for blacks. But these ladies honored told their stories without fear to a crowd in Rent Auditorium much more diverse from those they used to sit among. With this ceremony, MUW acknowledged its past while celebrating its progress and the brave women who made that progress possible.
A thorn to the city of Columbus for once again opting to borrow money to pave streets. With a second $5-million bond issue in three years, the city plans to pave portions of 92 streets by next summer. The first bond, issued in 2014, required a temporary 1.1-mill tax increase to service. This year’s will be serviced through projected increases in sales tax revenue. Maintaining good streets is a vital part of running a strong city. However, it seems more logical to dedicate a specific, perpetual tax to pay for the work as it goes rather than rack up debt for decades to come. What’s to say with these years-long bonds the term of repayment will outlast the repairs they finance?
A thorn to Lowndes County Supervisors for redoubling their efforts to kill the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority. Two weeks after announcing their intent to split from CLRA — in a proclaimed effort to incentivize the city to come to the table to discuss ways to improve the organization — supervisors voted to cut the county’s CLRA contribution by $40,000 for the upcoming fiscal year. The rationale, according to Board President Harry Sanders, is to force the city to up its contribution by $40,000 so both entities would then be giving the same amount — $690,000. The cut is the latest dig by a board that, at times, seems not to realize the city is also part of the county. In an era where there is a push for consolidation of government services, separate parks and rec departments for the city and county seems wasteful and ill-advised. Certainly the issue merits more public discussion than it is getting.
A rose of congratulations to the city of Columbus for the record $10.2 million in sales tax collections it received Fiscal Year 2015-16. Columbus continues to draw new retail, especially restaurants as the latest announcement of a Mugshots coming to town serves as one more piece of evidence. These wins are showing up now on the city’s bottom line. Now all the city council needs to do is find the most effective ways to use these tax dollars for the benefit of all its citizens.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.