A rose to organizers of the Seventh Avenue Heritage Festival, which wrapped up its 34th annual edition Saturday evening. From its modest beginnings in 1982, when the entertainment was confined to the back of a flatbed truck with only a handful of curious spectators on hand, the event has grown into a real treat, attracting hundreds of spectators and expanding several blocks along 7th Avenue, where the historic Queen City Hotel once stood. The hotel was the preferred lodging of many legendary black musicians in its hey-day and the festival pays homage to that history through the high caliber of musical acts it attracts. Family and kid-friendly events added over the years have broadened the festival’s appeal. We congratulate organizers, performers and spectators on again producing another excellent community event.
A rose to the Starkville-Oktibbeha County School District for its efforts in stressing the nutritional value of locally sourced fruits and vegetables through its participation in the National Farm to School Month, an initiative encouraging student nutrition. SOCSD used resources provided by the Mississippi Department of Education and the nonprofit Mississippi Farm to School Network to find and purchase fresh produce, including butter beans, squash and cantaloupe. The district’s schools will provide locally sourced fruits and vegetables on school menus throughout October. Dorothy Grady Scarborough, co-lead of the Mississippi Farm to School Network, said the program’s focus highlights the importance of nutrition in Mississippi schools. “In this day and age, we have more unhealthy students,” Scarborough said. “If they get the nutritional value that they’re in need of, it also stimulates healthier brains.”
We applaud this effort, knowing that healthy habits formed in childhood can lead to a lifetime of healthy choices, something of particular concern when we consider Mississippi has the highest rate of childhood obesity in the nation.
A rose to Brandon Presley, northern district commissioner and president of the state’s Public Service Commission, for his efforts in facilitating a solution for a problem that confronted efforts to bring an industrial development site to Oktibbeha County. The planned Innovation District industrial park in Starkville had hit a major roadblock in providing infrastructure required to recruit tenants to the site when it became clear that access to natural gas would be difficult. Planners turned to Presley, who quickly assumed a role in providing a solution by reaching out to Atmos Energy. Through his efforts, Atmos agreed to provide $13.4 million to extend a natural gas pipeline from a major transmission line in Pheba, a 12-mile span. During his tenure at the PSC, Presley has proven to be a real advocate for the people and communities of north Mississippi. He’s a hands-on, solution-driven leader, which is all too often in short supply.
A rose to all those who fulfilled an important civic duty by registering to vote. Saturday was the deadline to register to vote in time for the Nov. 8 election. While citizens can still register at circuit clerk offices throughout the state, they will not be eligible to vote in November. We are encouraged by the number of new voters who have registered in time for the November election. Circuit clerk officials in both Oktibbeha and Lowndes counties reported big numbers in the days leading up to Saturday’s deadline — more than 2,800 new voters in Oktibbeha County (which represents a 10-percent increase in total registered voters) and 395 new voters in Lowndes County through Wednesday. We are happy to see so many citizens added to the voter rolls, but one important duty remains. It is not enough to simply register. Citizens must take the next step and be sure to vote. Every vote matters because every voter matters.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.