Roses and thorns: 11/10/19




A rose to Mike Tagert, who Friday was named as the CEO of the Starkville Partnership. Tagert, who lives in Starkville, is currently finishing his second term as Northern District Commissioner for the Mississippi Department of Transportation. He will become the Partnership's first permanent leader since Scott Maynard resigned 18 months ago. Tagert's familiarity with the community and background makes him a natural fit for his new role. He previously served as administrator of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority and president of the organization's respective trade association, the Tennessee-Tombigbee Development Council. Tagert has worked with the Partnership before to secure grant funding for road and sidewalk construction and kept the organization up to date on those projects. He'll be ready to hit the ground running when he assumes his new duties on Jan. 7.



A thorn to the Starkville Board of Aldermen. Tuesday, in a break from its normal practice, the board announced the hiring of SPD Capt. Mark Ballard as Starkville's new police chief starting Jan. 1. Ballard was one of eight applicants, but the city held no public hearings during the process, which means citizens were denied the ability to ask questions, express their concerns or hear from the candidates. Previously, these kind of hires have been open processes, a sign that the public has an active stake in filling these positions. Our criticism is not directed at Ballard, whose record of service certainly makes him a qualified candidate, but rather, at the process that denied citizen participation in the process as the city filled this important position.




A thorn to the Lowndes County School District Board of Trustees which continues to obstinately refuse to share any meaningful information as it continues its search for a superintendent. After a special meeting Friday held in closed session, the board announce it has settled on three finalists, but has no intentions of sharing with stakeholders their names. We do know from multiple sources that Lynn Wright is not a finalist, which means his second four-year term as superintendent will end Dec. 31. This is a terrible way to handle so sensitive and so important a matter. It's certain to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of citizens who have been so rudely ignored in this process. In fact, we have concerns over the legality of the district's process.



A rose to Nadia Colom, who has announced that she is resigning her position as Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Golden Triangle. Under Colom's leadership, the club has grown in just about every way an organization can be measured -- memberships, donations, facilities (the club expanded to West Point in 2018) and exposure. In her six years as director, along with another year as the director for the Columbus club, Colom has strengthened the club's organizational processes, improved training and, perhaps more than anything else, raised the public profile of the club. As she transitions into a "stay at home mom" with her two young daughters, we thank her for her exceptional service to our communities




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