A rose to the people of the Golden Triangle for their role in the rising tide of public awareness concerning COVID-19 vaccination and safety precautions that will slow the spread of the virus. Although the Golden Triangle vaccination rates still lag well below 50 percent, we’ve noticed recently that more and more people are advocating publicly for vaccination, and those who are still reluctant seem open to discuss what was previously almost a taboo subject. Likewise, while no city- or county-wide mask mandates have been issued, we are seeing more and more people choosing to voluntarily wear masks in public spaces. Public opinion is powerful, so this recent trend is encouraging. While too many have yet to get vaccinated and too few are wearing masks, we sense the tide is turning and, we hope, gaining momentum.
A rose to state senator Hob Bryan for his role in bringing a rental/utility assistance clinic to our area. The federal government allocated $186 million to the state for rental/utility assistance for those who have suffered financially because of COVID-19. Yet only $15 million has been distributed by the Mississippi Home Corporation, which administers the funds for the state. In an effort to make sure thousands of Mississippi renters get the help they need, MHC has started hosting clinics throughout the state, helping people apply for the funds. Upon learning of the clinics, Bryan urged MHC to bring a clinic to his district. On Friday and Saturday, MHC held a clinic at the Aberdeen High School gym. By the end of the clinic, Bryan estimated participants had enrolled in well over $1 million in rent/utility assistance. With up to 15 months of rental/utility payments available, this program can make a profound difference for many of our citizens struggling with rental costs. We thank Bryan for his efforts in helping make sure our renters aren’t left out.
A rose to the Lowndes County Board of supervisors for providing debris-removal assistance for the city of Columbus, which has fallen behind in that effort because of a manpower shortage in its public works department. The county started deploying road crews and trucks to aid Columbus Public Works in catching up with its debris-removal efforts. Outside of law enforcement, examples of the city and county working together to address a problem have been few in recent years, so this is an encouraging sign. As noted, Columbus residents are Lowndes County citizens, too, something supervisors now seem to understand and embrace. It’s an important step toward future collaborations, we hope.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.