A rose to the New Hope boys, Columbus girls and Noxubee County girls basketball teams, each of which fell just short of a state championship with losses in the MHSAA State Basketball finals. New Hope lost to defending champion Holmes County Central, 76-61 in the 4A final Friday evening, despite the outstanding play of Caleb Parr, who scored 33 points and had 10 rebounds for the Trojans. New Hope finished the season with a 23-5 record. The Columbus girls (22-4) also fell just short, losing to Neshoba Central, 49-41 on Friday in the 4A final. Makayla Rieves starred for the Falcons, finishing with 22 points in her final high school game. Noxubee County fell to Booneville, 46-30, in Saturday’s 3A final to finish with a 19-12 record. Tootie Lockett was outstanding in defeat, picking up 18 points. No doubt, the Trojans, Falcons and Tigers are disappointed in coming so close to their ultimate goal, yet all three teams should take pride in outstanding seasons.
A rose to Quincy Lavender of Columbus who was named Golden Triangle Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year, the second time he has earned the honor. Lavender, who was also Youth of the Year in 2019, will now compete against youths from other Boys & Girls Clubs across the state later this month. If successful, he could compete in the regional and national competition and be eligible to receive over $75,000 in scholarships. The 18-year-old is a senior at Columbus High School. He plays linebacker and running back for the Falcons’ football team. He also participates in the school choir. He is a member of the Columbus High 3.0 Club where members must maintain a 3.0 grade point average to remain a member. Lavender also is a member of the Junior Columbus Kappa League, a fraternal organization dedicated to community service. We congratulate Quincy, who has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club since he was 13, and wish him best of luck in the upcoming state competition.
A rose to Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill and the Board of Aldermen for taking a clear-eyed approach to a serious issue in the city’s police department. Police Chief Mark Ballard informed the board that his officers make, on average, approximately $15,000 less than officers in other cities similar to Starkville. The disparity, Ballard said, is making it increasingly difficult to hire and retain officers. The board took no actions, but their discussions made it clear they understand that addressing the issue cannot be done in small increments, but will instead demand a serious commitment. Mayor Spruill suggested it might take a 1 mill increase in taxes to cover the cost of making police salaries competitive. Tax increases are always an unpopular idea, but the board’s willingness to consider a tax increase in this instance indicates they understand the gravity of the situation and are willing to consider a tax increase to address it. It also illustrates they are seeking a long-term solution rather than using limited COVID relief funds.
A rose to Columbus Municipal School District Superintendent Cherie Labat for her efforts to connect with residents throughout the city to rally support for city schools. The first of six meetings for each of the wards in the city was held Monday at Sim Scott Community Center in Ward 4. Labat used the meeting to provide residents information on the progress made by the city’s schools as well as the challenges that remain. Although CMSD Board meetings are open to the public, they are often sparsely attended. By bringing information to the neighborhoods, Labat hopes to build support for the school district to a broader audience of residents. The success of our schools is essential to building safer, healthier and more prosperous communities. It is something that affects every citizen. We applaud these efforts and encourage residents to attend these town-hall style meetings.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.