By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – Instead of delivering new ideas, Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton said his State of the City speech today will “foreshadow” future proposals likely from his administration.
Shelton’s 4 p.m. speech at the BancorpSouth Conference Center will focus on themes he used to woo voters to elect him nearly eight months ago – attracting and retaining more middle-income residents and improving Tupelo’s quality of life.
“There’s not going to be any new earth-shattering new proposals,” Shelton said Friday. “A lot of these themes won’t change.”
Topics will include neighborhood revitalization needs, community pride and strength of the Tupelo Public School District.
Shelton said Tupelo remains in a strong position but must create opportunities for future growth. The city had a population of 34,546, according to the 2010 Census, less than a 1 percent increase compared to a decade earlier.
“We’re just in a great position, but we’re in a little bit of a crossroads,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re motivated and unified to make sure we go forward.”
Shelton also will discuss the tragedy in December that galvanized the community. Residents united in support when two Tupelo police officers were shot – one killed and the other critically injured – while pursuing a bank robber.
Family of both slain Tupelo Police Department Sgt. Gale Stauffer and critically injured officer Joseph Maher have been invited to attend. An Oklahoma gunman robbed a bank in Tupelo on Dec. 23, shooting the officers before escaping and later died in a robbery attempt in Arizona.
Of course, the speech also will mention achievements and goals of city departments and task forces, including city efforts to encourage health and fitness.
Shelton said he started work on the speech in January and spent part of the weekend tweaking the text. Scheduling conflicts with some City Council members and severe weather threats postponed the State of the City until today. Shelton joked last week that nothing will change the date again.
“I feel certain the third time will be a charm,” he said. “We’ve already moved it twice.”
Extra time to work on the speech led to more editing needed. Shelton said it originally started at 38 minutes but them expanded to more than 11⁄2 hours after including more city highlights and accomplishments. However, those who attend the event shouldn’t worry, the mayor plans to keep it at 45 minutes.
“This has been a good problem,” he said.
STATE OF THE CITY SPEECH
• When: 4 p.m.today
• Where: BancorpSouth Conference Center’s Sweet Gum Room
• Also: View the text of the speech later today on djournal.com.