BY EMILY LE COZ
TUPELO – South Gloster Street has a voice, and that voice is saying “I'm alive.”
About 40 citizens met Thursday to form the new South Gloster Area Property Owners Association, a group whose mission includes protecting and promoting a section of Tupelo they say many people have forgotten.
“It seems like the eyes of the city focus not on South Gloster but on North Gloster and downtown,” said Rudy Dossett Jr., owner of Dossett Big 4 and the group's co-founder. The other founder is Tupelo Auto Sales owner Hoyt Sheffield.
Since a January article in the Daily Journal quoted a North Gloster car salesman as saying “South Gloster is dead,” Dossett has run a newspaper and television ad campaign countering that statement.
“South Gloster ain't dead,” the ads have said.
Then, two weeks ago, Dossett appeared before City Council proposing a committee to act in the best interests of the south side of town.
Apparently, he got the council's attention: Mayor Larry Otis and four councilmen – Smith Heavner of Ward 3, Perry Smith of Ward 6, Dick Hill of Ward 1 and Danny Barrows of Ward 7 – attended the first meeting at Gloster Creek Village Food Court.
Heavner praised the turnout, saying that “it's gotten today where people think South Gloster is dead. And it's not.”
As its first act of business, the group adopted its name and slogan – “South Gloster is alive” – before proposing a mission statement that includes protecting property values, promoting economic growth and providing support for members.
Protecting property values hit a chord with Ora Baldwin. The Lee Acres resident said those values will decrease unless the committee combats the area's negative image and sparks economic activity.
“We have a lot of need here,” said Baldwin, a retired school teacher who joined the group's board. “I used to shop at Food World until it closed about a year and a half ago. Now we don't have a grocery store on this side of town anymore. We need one.”
South Gloster is watching
To act on property owners' behalf, members will attend all city functions wearing badges with the group's slogan. They'll be a constant reminder to those who make decisions that South Gloster is watching, Dossett said.
They'll also speak out on South Gloster's behalf anytime they hear someone saying that it's dead or dying.
“We just want fair representation,” said Dossett, who is funding the group. “Just be fair to the south. And the east. And west. And north.”
Otis told group members he would incorporate their ideas into a forthcoming study of the South Gloster area, which Community Development Foundation president and CEO David Rumbarger predicted would be a good economic analysis of Tupelo.
Rumbarger volunteered to be the first board member of the group, which he provided CDF bylaws for its adaptation.
The next meeting will be held at 8 a.m. March 8 at the Gloster Creek Village Food Court.
What: South Gloster Area Property Owners Association is a new group formed by Rudy Dossett Jr. and Hoyt Sheffield.
Slogan: “South Gloster is alive”
Proposed mission: To protect and improve property values, promote economical growth … and provide support, guidance and direction of members and non-members of the South Gloster area of Tupelo.
Officers: Chairman Jim Newman, co-chairman Bruce Ridgway, secretary Tonya Hensley, treasurer Rudy Dossett III.
Other members: Ora Baldwin, Rudy Dossett Jr., Robert Grass, Nathan Hood, Stewart Maxie, David Rumbarger, Hoyt Sheffield, Jerome Sheffield and Ken Wilson
Next meeting: 8 a.m., March 8 at the Gloster Creek Village Food Court
Contact Emily Le Coz at 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org