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Look to future, but focus on today’s problems

Gov. Phil Bryant announced this week that he is starting two new space endeavors — one for economic development and one for defense.

Bryant announced the Space Initiative on Monday during an event at Stennis Space Center in coastal Hancock County, where NASA rocket engines are tested, The Associated Press reported.

The leader of the economic development effort will be Patrick Scheuermann, former head of Stennis Space Center and Marshall Space Flight Center.

Bryant also announced the formation of a Mississippi National Guard Space Directorate. Its commander will be Col. Billy Murphy of the Mississippi Air National Guard’s 186th Air Operations Group, AP reported.

A news release from the governor’s office says the directorate lines up with President Donald Trump’s Space Force Initiative, and will create and use space technology for defense and for disaster response.

While looking to the future is wise, we have a better idea for a new project — the “Back 40 directorate.”

Many of Mississippi’s rural roads and bridges are crumbling, or closed or dangerous. Instead of conquering the final frontier, let’s conquer the state’s asphalt and concrete. Infrastructure is crucial to the state’s longterm future, and currently the state isn’t doing enough to maintain it.

While some paving is taking place in Lincoln County, there are still bridges that are closed and black-topped roads that look more like gravel roads.

Space may be state’s future, but today we need better roads and bridges.