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Let’s work together to fix sidewalks

Walking around downtown Brookhaven early in the morning, things are very quiet and peaceful.

The quiet and stillness of the morning provides a good opportunity to observe a very vibrant downtown. On this Labor Day weekend I think of the jobs that Brookhaven/ Lincoln County and neighboring county residents are provided by churches, government, retail and professional establishments and even the locally operated Daily Leader.

Consider that most all of these employers pay taxes that support the infrastructure that fuels the momentum of a downtown business district and keeps it alive and going. They also pay wages to employees who in turn pay taxes.

Many communities have dead or dying downtowns. Most communities would love to have just a piece of what Brookhaven’s downtown offers.

It is encouraging to walk by the new Miller and White Inc. accounting office building as it is being constructed. Walk a little farther and you pass Janie’s Pastry Shop & Bakery, where you might see Vick, a local regular, enjoying his breakfast. The Inn on Whitworth provides visitors a unique place to spend the night before making sales calls on local businesses.

A person can enjoy a meal, take care of banking and buy jewelry, shoes and auto parts. You can see an attorney, pay those taxes, get a haircut, see a doctor, buy real estate, or replace a windshield. Many will take their child to school or to day care offered by First Baptist and First Methodist.

For sure, there are many other fine and successful businesses on the Boulevard and other areas of Brookhaven. These also contribute to the growth and vitality of the local economy.

As a central business district and community focal point downtowns across the country are good examples of community pride.

Downtown Brookhaven needs a little help. The sidewalks aren’t rolled up at night but they are buckling and cracking up.

One of the most important institutions downtown is the United States Postal Service. Better known as the post office, this location greatly benefits the downtown area. Business owners and employees, from downtown and elsewhere, visit the post office daily. Many residents and visitors photograph the inside and outside of the historic building to mail to family and friends across the country.

Brookhaven is indeed fortunate to still have an active and historic downtown post office. As most know, many of these have been closed or moved to the outskirts of towns.

Most people who use the downtown post office know the local employees, Patrice Smith Mobley, Cassandra Washington and Russell Anderson, as they are all very friendly and helpful to every customer. They indirectly help bring, and maintain, many jobs downtown.

More than a month ago, the sidewalks in front of the post office began to rise, and the cracks in the concrete became a safety hazard for those who use the facility. So, the USPS placed cones and orange tape to caution citizens.

Prompted by a reader’s question, The Daily Leader’s Katie Williamson, asked Shirley Estes, Ward Four alderman who would be responsible for the needed repairs.

Estes had earlier met with the local postmaster and determined the sidewalk was on USPS right of way. Therefore, USPS, and not the city, would be making the repairs.

I’m happy that Alderman Estes was proactive when she learned the sidewalk was causing safety issues for the post office. That’s good government.

However, if we are going to be good neighbors and foster community pride in downtown and all of Brookhaven, I think the city, since it can move more quickly than USPS, should make the repairs to the sidewalk. Work out an agreement whereby the city is reimbursed. I know the devil is in the details; especially one government agency dealing with another (in this case independent) agency but this is downtown Brookhaven. The post office is an important partner with all of downtown.

Repair the sidewalks at the post office. Develop a plan and implement a timeline to repair or replace them across the entire downtown area.

Support those businesses, individuals and institutions spending public and private monies to rehab or build new properties. This support will surely help Brookhaven become the most talked about and visited community in Mississippi.

<cTypeface:Italic> Otis Raybon is the publisher of The Daily Leader. Contact him at otis.raybon@dailyleader.com or (601) 833-6961. <cTypeface:Plain>