A rose to Berkley Hudson for his tireless quest to preserve and champion the photographic legacy of O.N. Pruitt. Hudson’s efforts (which have spanned decades) have yielded a beautifully produced book (locally available at The Columbus Arts Council and Friendly City Books) and a striking exhibition. Thursday night’s opening at the Rosenzweig Arts Center drew a packed house of enthusiastic viewers. Pruitt maintained a studio on Columbus’ Main Street from 1920 to 1960. Judging by the diversity of his subject matter, the photographer enjoyed ready acceptance in every strata of society. The resulting photographs, which include an unflinching look at the dark underside of the racial realities of that period, offer an unusually comprehensive portrait of a time and place.
A rose also to Salem Gibson and Shane Kinder of the Columbus Arts Council who spared no effort in mounting the Pruitt exhibition. Kinder and Gibson have labored for months preparing for the show, which consists of almost 100 photographs. The fruits of their hard work are plain to see in the exhibition now up and running through April. The Pruitt collection is a treasure, the likes of which few communities possess. The RAC is open 9 to 5 Tuesday through Friday and 9 to noon on Saturday. Admission is free.
A thorn to the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors, who on Thursday knowingly violated state Open Meetings Act regulations by holding a pair of non-quorum meetings to discuss engineering plans for repairing/replacing the dam at Oktibbeha County Lake. Four of the five supervisors met to discuss the options with the firms who had been contracted to analyze the dam and provide cost estimates for the work in two separate meetings of two supervisors each. The separate, smaller meetings were intended to sidestep public meeting requirements, but in fact they likely violate state law. The board’s attorney, Rob Roberson, was informed that holding these “rolling-quorum” meetings was in violation of the law before Thursday’s meetings, but the supervisors held the meetings anyway. This paper has filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission.
A rose to Wilson Beck, who is leaving his role as director of the Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce in March. Although Beck’s tenure with the chamber was short — he took over the position in July 2020 — he led the organization during a difficult period. Despite the challenge of leading the chamber at a time when COVID-19 altered or, in some cases, prevented the Chamber from staging many of its activities, Beck was able to make some important contributions. Without his leadership, Mississippi likely would not be represented at the Scripp’s National Spelling Bee this year. He also worked with others to expand the Chamber-sponsored Columbus Young Professionals from a networking group to a group that is now active in community service projects. Beck will remain in town and will no doubt continue his involvement in community service.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.