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As 2005 dawns, challenges, opportunities await us all

As 2004 goes into the history books, Brookhaven and LincolnCounty can look back on a year of accomplishments and change andgaze ahead to new challenges and opportunities in 2005.

The past year saw a variety of city offices changing hands.

Chief among these changes were Mayor Bill Godbold and City ClerkIris Rudman Smith decisions to retire after years of service. Aspecial election saw then-Alderman Bob Massengill chosen as mayorand Mike Jinks picked to be city clerk.

The year ended with the area awaiting the appointment of a newcircuit court judge after Keith Starrett was confirmed to the U.S.Southern District Court. Gov. Haley Barbour is expected to name areplacement in the near future.

Accomplishments in 2004 were many.

In April, an industrial site selection magazine named Brookhavenas one of the country’s Top 100 small towns. The city ranked 74thon the list.

Following a legislative session filled with funding uncertainty,the state Board of Education voted in June to admit a second classto the Mississippi School of the Arts. Supporters were hopeful thesecond class would ensure the residential school’s future, althoughthe funding picture remains cloudy as lawmakers prepare for the2005 legislative session.

Following a trial that concluded in January, Brookhaven movedcloser to expanding its boundaries as a special chancellor inAugust authorized the annexation of more than 14 square miles inarea. Objectors, however, appealed the ruling, and the case stillis pending as the new year dawns.

Throughout the year, local school sports teams and studentsfound success in many areas.

Brookhaven High School claimed state titles in baseball,football and cheerleading while Brookhaven Academy won a girlsstate basketball title while academic accomplishments by studentsalso were numerous. A parade is planned Thursday to celebrate thestudents’ achievements.

On the economic development side, sales tax collection andunemployment rates maintained their strong if not stellar pace andcommunity leaders moved closer to developing a new industrialpark.

A variety of retail establishments located here, while someexisting ones reopened in larger surroundings. Also, many in thecommunity are looking forward to a Home Depot opening in 2005.

While 2004 was a good year for Brookhaven and Lincoln County,community leaders have a number of challenges to occupy their timein 2005.

Continued progress on industrial park development is a vitalcomponent in the community’s economic future. Available space isvery limited, and more is needed to attract the interest ofindustrial prospects.

Supervisors remain concerned about the condition of the county’sroads and bridges. Also, county officials are contemplating how toproceed with renovations and repairs on the government complex andlaw enforcement complex.

In the city, leaders are pondering the future of a proposedtransportation facility, seeking lights for interstate interchangesand working hard to address flooding concerns across town. Theyalso hope a long-awaited downtown street paving project gets underway in the early part of the year.

A key factor in a community’s success is the ability of city,county and chamber of commerce leaders to work together. Brookhavenand Lincoln County’s leaders exhibited that spirit of cooperationin 2004, and we look for it to continue into 2005 and beyond.