Events paint picture of unique community

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 29, 2003

Each year at this time, our staff digs back into our files ofthe past year and pulls together a review of the past 12 months fora series of stories for our final editions of the year.

I always find it interesting reading as I am reminded of thedetails of events we have covered during the year. Some I am happyto remember and others I would just as soon forget.

But those stories paint a picture of this area that makes thisarea unique and makes up our history.

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With the capture of Saddam Hussein in the last few weeks, it isinteresting to flip through the January files and be reminded itwas just under a year ago that the tension in Iraq was being feltright here at home as the 296th Transportation Company wasmobilized into service. While those dedicated Army reservists ofthe Brookhaven unit are now safely at home, for the first part ofthe year, there were tense days across the area as missiles beganfiring and the advance on Baghdad began.

The war in Iraq dominated the national as well as localheadlines. However, it was the year-long 75th anniversaycelebration of the opening of Copiah-Lincoln Community College andthe long-anticipated opening of the Mississippi School of the Artsin August which, in my opinion, rank as two of the most importantevents of not only 2003 but future years.

We all know of Co-Lin’s success and what it has meant in thisarea. We can only dream of what the School of the Arts will meannot only for Brookhaven and Lincoln County but for Mississippi.

Politically, we saw a changing of the guard in Lincoln Countylaw enforcement as Lynn Boyte fell short in the Democratic primaryand will be replaced by challenger Wiley Calcote as Lincoln Countysheriff. We also saw political history being made as the Rev. JerryWilson was elected to District One supervisor.

Two long-time legislators, Rep. Jim Barnett and Rep. Bobby Moakboth sidestepped challengers in races that drew statewide attentionfrom special interest groups angry over tort reform legislation.Barnett drew support from medical and business leaders while Moakdrew support from trial lawyers.

City politics continued to dominate the news as issues such asannexation, a proposed train station, garbage pick up, cityemployee benefits and even the spraying of mosquitoes broughtcontroversy to the city board.

The local economy, which has been sputtering for the past twoyears from not only the national recession but from fallout of theWorldCom collapse, began gathering steam in the final months of theyear as sales tax receipts saw an 8 percent jump over the previousyear and area merchants reported stronger than anticipatedChristmas sales. Spurred on by low interest rates, several buildingprojects are in the works for new retail space and expansion oflocal industry.

With a new governor taking office in a few days, the economystarting to percolate, a presidential race in the works, the fourthyear of the third millennium could be an interesting year.

Here’s hopping for a great one. Happy New Year!