By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Mayor Jack Reed Jr. celebrated Tupelo’s accomplishments and challenged the city to step up during his State of the City address Wednesday.
“I am proud of the year just completed – 2012; and I am excited for the year to come – 2013,” Reed said.
Before an audience of hundreds of city employees, elected officials, business leaders and citizens, Reed challenged the city to help the Salvation Army raise $500,000 for a new wing for its homeless shelter.
“They need to double their shelter to make room for families,” Reed said. “We can’t have a family with a 15-year-old girl sleeping next to a single male stranger.”
He also challenged Tupelo’s businesses to assist with a $800,000 Parents Campaign for the new aquatic center.
“We build a new aquatic center only once every 50 years,” he said, and it will benefit people across the community.
His third challenge was aimed at Tupelo’s professionals and executives with children.
“If you believe in Tupelo’s unique history of having a great multiracial public school system, think hard before you leave our Tupelo Public Schools,” he said.
Reed said he respected parents’ rights to choose what’s best for their children.
“If our public schools become all-minority or all-white, we will not be the best city we can be,” said Reed, who lauded the quality work of the school district.
“We can be a fine city, but we won’t be an exceptional city. We won’t be able to claim we’re different from Jackson, or Meridian, or Hattiesburg, or Gulfport, or Greenville or Greenwood. We won’t be able to say, as we once did in the 1960s, that we are that exceptional town in the Deep South.”
Reed found plenty to celebrate in Tupelo’s 2012 accomplishments.
The Tupelo Fire Department, Public Works and the Convention and Visitors Bureau brought home state and regional awards. Efforts spearheaded by the Healthy Tupelo Task Force brought home the BlueCross BlueShield Healthiest Hometown Award and a $50,000 grant.
A balanced budget in year 2012 added $1.2 million to the city’s reserve funds – a total of $20.4 million. Reed lauded the decision of the Tupelo City Council to commit $2.4 million to the expanded 2013 street overlay program and the West Jackson Neighborhood Revitalization Project.
Reed also recognized individuals and groups he considered models of the Tupelo spirit:
• The Cubello family, who owns D’Casa restaurants, for donating an Elvis mural from the old Santa Fe Restaurant to the city.
• Will and Amanda Reed, owners of Native Son Farm, as young entrepreneurs making their dreams a reality in Tupelo.
• Lee County’s Excel by 5 Steering Committee for working to improve pre-K and day care programs in the community
• Helping Hands’ Clothing Ministry for its commitment to serving those in need every year.
“I truly believe that Tupelo will be a great city in this century,” Reed said. “These reasons are our people.”