Roses and thorns: 9/13/20




A rose to the Rotary Club of Columbus and Mississippi University of Women, who are collaborating on a program to provide support for local preschools, families with children up to age 5 and the Early Childhood Development program at The W. The Rotary Club provided a $40,000 grant as part of its 100th anniversary celebration. A portion of the grant will provide for a progressive resource room for community members to check out materials to support and engage with young children. With help from Penny Mansell, director of the Child and Parent Development Center at The W, the planned materials include literacy kits, STEM and STEAM materials, cultural awareness curriculum and social-emotional curriculum. We can think of few projects that better fits with Rotary's mission. The grant is a great service to our community.



A rose to Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill and local businesses and civic organizations for the continuing effort to create outdoor entertainments downtown as businesses struggle to recover from the effects of COVID-19. The latest effort, dubbed "Lights on Lafayette'' is geared toward branding a one block section of Lafayette between Main and Lumpkin streets as an outdoor entertainment area through the use of decorative lighting. The 900 LED lights create an inviting atmosphere that not only marks the block as a gathering place, but increases foot traffic downtown. After the first effort to create outdoor entertainment space -- the Streatery -- was abandoned in the wake of potential litigation, the new effort stands as a testament to persistence in an effort to make downtown appealing to visitors.




A rose to the Columbus Municipal School District and its partners at the Mississippi School Board Association for its rebranding efforts as the district prepares to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Franklin Academy in February. As the state's first public school system, CMSD's decision to rebrand in conjunction with the anniversary celebrations, which also include the 155th anniversary of Union Academy, calls attention not only to its proud history but its future. The rebrand includes logos for the district, each of its schools and a new Falcon mascot the district can use for merchandising. The preliminary logos and mascot won't be revealed until the final versions are approved by the board of trustees later this year, but a sneak peak of the work provided to the board this week was greeted with an enthusiastic response.



A rose to defense contractor Navistar for its major expansion of its West Point operations. This week, the company announced an $8 million upgrade that will add 500 permanent jobs in the next four years. Navistar has been in West Point for 15 years, but has never operated on this scale. Currently, the company has 25 employees at its West Point facility. For a small town, the impact of this expansion cannot be overstated. We congratulate the company, along with state and local officials, whose work laid the groundwork for this week's announcement. It's great news all around.




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