By JB Clark
VERONA – After years of research and planning, sidewalks are beginning to appear along one major pedestrian route in Verona.
They’re the result of a $250,000 Safe Routes to School grant through the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.
Alderman Margaret Baker presented the grant project to the Board of Aldermen at the end of 2009 and now, with the support of Verona Elementary School Principal Temeka Shannon, former Mayor Bobby Williams, current Mayor Robert Trice and many others, the sidewalks are being installed.
Baker said she hopes to see sidewalks all over the city but for now the grant will allow for .61 miles of sidewalk along Raymond Avenue, from 8th Street to Barley Court, and along 10th Street, from Raymond Avenue to Verona Elementary School.
While completing the work for the grant, Trice said they estimated 70 to 80 percent of the children who live in the neighborhoods around Verona Elementary School walk already, causing safety and traffic problems.
“Verona is a walking city already,” said Baker. “It will help people who want to start a walking program and exercise program. It’s geared toward the children but it’s not just for the children, it’s for the community as a whole.”
Once complete, the first phase will connect some of Verona’s residential areas to a large portion of the city’s businesses. Baker said she hopes to see construction of more sidewalks to connect the rest of the city.
Trice said he thinks the sidewalks also will help spread a sense of community and neighborly kindness.
“I believe, if we work at it, we can have the safest, cleanest and friendliest town in Lee County,” he said. “I believe when you promote community, that will combat the crime rate. We’ve got to work together and be nice to our neighbors and our citizens and build up some pride in our city.”
He added the sidewalks also give the city more curb appeal.
The project is slated for completion in June, according to Baker.
The city currently has sidewalks Baker said she remembers using to walk to and from school. Most have tilted away from the road, crumbled or been covered with grass and dirt.