Community needs a welcoming ‘front door’

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Masters inAugusta, Ga. For those who are not golf fans, the Masters is theequivalent of the Super Bowl, but with more grace and decorum – noloud, unruly fans, no stadium waves, just polite clapping and aquick cheering roar when a good shot is made.

It is amazing how quiet and respective 100,000-plus people canbe, but when officials hold the threat of yanking your ticket (orbadge, as they are called) and banning your future attendance, itgets one’s attention quickly.

You see a ticket to the Masters is a tough thing to get. Infact, it is called the toughest ticket in sports because,effectively, you have to be invited to attend. And like any invitedguest, you are expected to follow the rules.

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While golf is the purpose of the event, there is more to theMasters than the golf. The grounds are the most immaculatelylandscaped masterpiece one will ever see. You can search long andhard, but nowhere on the several hundred acres will you find aweed. Azaleas are in bloom everywhere, as are the dogwoods andwisteria. The rye grass holds the richest color of green, and itperfectly contrasts to every other color to make everything looklike a perfect picture. On a warm sunny day, nothing can be moresoothing and relaxing than sitting on a manicured grassy hill,eating one of their famous egg salad sandwiches and viewing thelandscape.

Driving home on Monday, Amy and I stopped at several smallhistoric communities. Each was very similar to our own here inLincoln County. The pride in each community could be seen from thelandscaped flower beds, which beckon drivers to stop and visit asthey speed past on the highway.

At numerous interchanges along Interstate 20 in both Georgia andAlabama, work crews were busy digging up the grass and plantinghundreds of bushes on the sides of hills. One reason, of course,was to make a welcome entrance to the community, but another was toreduce the need, and thus the cost, for grass cutting maintenanceduring the spring and summer.

Arriving in Mississippi, the cities of Morton and Forrest havebegun similar projects. Having enjoyed the landscaped beauty of theMasters and seeing the work along the highways, I came back toreality as we pulled off I-55 at the Brookway Boulevard exit.

While some planting has been done at the exit over the years,much of it has been mowed over by bush hog crews. A beautifullandscaping plan for Brookway Boulevard has already begun, but,unfortunately, no formal plan exists for the interchange.

Our neighbor to the south, McComb took advantage of state fundsrecently and installed streetlights at each of its interchanges, ashave Grenada, Batesville and others. At night, the lights are likeone that’s turned on at a front door — a welcome sign that saysstop by for a visit.

With the opening of the Mississippi School of the Arts inAugust, we, too, need to be sure we have a welcome at our frontdoor for visitors. Some efforts are being made, but much work isneeded, as well as the unwavering support of our cityofficials.

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, Miss.39602.