By Emily LeCoz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – County and municipal leaders broke ground this week on a new public walking track that has many cheering the group behind the effort.
Spearheaded by volunteer residents and business leaders calling themselves the Lee County 4th District Development Group, the track will require no public money.
Group members instead raised $30,000 and got land donated for the project. They also plan to use as much in-kind labor, borrowed equipment and donated materials as possible, said Chairman David Walker.
Funds left over will go toward constructing a community center that mainly will serve the youth and the elderly.
“I’m proud of the people in the community who come together and say, ‘We want to do something ourselves,’” said District 4 Lee County Supervisor Tommie Lee Ivy.
Ivy was joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by all four of his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, along with Shannon Mayor Ronnie Hallmark, group members and other supporters.
It was held at the site of the future track and community center, on a grassy expanse of land behind the South Lee County Volunteer Fire Station on County Road 154. Lee County resident and group member Willie Smith said he donated the land, which had been in his family since 1948.
Track work is scheduled to begin within the next two weeks and finish sometime in July, Walker said. It will be made of asphalt and run between one-quarter and one-half mile.
Group member Leo Wright said he’s anxious for the track’s completion. As a daily walker, he combats fast-moving traffic on the rural area’s narrow roads and said it’ll be nice to have a safe place to go.
“I think that we get a chance to positively impact the community,” Wright said, “not just from a health standpoint, but from an educational standpoint and just for socialization.”
The group hopes to expand its efforts soon to other parts of Lee County.