State of the City: Shelton urges unity to improve Tupelo

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Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com Tupelo Mayor Jason Shleton, left, presents Johnny Timmons, director of Tupelo Water and Light, with a key to the city for his 40 years of service during Shelton's State of the City address Monday.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Tupelo Mayor Jason Shleton, left, presents Johnny Timmons, director of Tupelo Water and Light, with a key to the city for his 40 years of service during Shelton’s State of the City address Monday.

By Robbie Ward

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Mayor Jason Shelton stressed confidence in Tupelo’s high quality of life and stressed the importance of unity to achieve goals in his first State of the City address.

Shelton’s speech Monday highlighted achievements of city departments and employees, the sense of community in the city, the strength of the Tupelo Public School District and other positives of Tupelo.

“In the time I have been in office, I can say without a doubt that the city is moving forward in a very positive direction,” he said to the crowd at the BancorpSouth Conference Center. “But like all good cities and organizations, success is not something that happens without a great team working together toward a common goal.”

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com City Councilmen Lynn Bryan, left, and Mike Bryan applaud as the families of late Tupelo Police Officer Gale Stauffer and Officer Joseph Maher receive a standing ovation during Monday's State of the City address.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
City Councilmen Lynn Bryan, left, and Mike Bryan applaud as the families of late Tupelo Police Officer Gale Stauffer and Officer Joseph Maher receive a standing ovation during Monday’s State of the City address.

More than 400 city, community and business leaders and other residents attended the celebration of Tupelo’s present condition and heard the direction the mayor of nearly eight months plans during his four-year term in office.

Shelton provided what he described as “foreshadowing” during the speech spanning just under 45 minutes. He mentioned goals of citywide revitalization, increased quality of life and pay raises for city employees.

However, he offered few specifics on how the city will achieve these goals. He said timetables and details will emerge as he, city department heads and staff and City Council members continue to focus on key priorities.

“We’re working diligently and quickly on having formal plans,” he said in an interview with the Daily Journal before the speech.

Looming projects include citywide revitalization efforts and providing infrastructure for community and economic development projects. The City Council and mayor will meet today for a work session to discuss building a new police station and efforts to establish a public transportation system.

Video: Highlights of Shelton’s speech

David Rumbarger, president and CEO of the Community Development Foundation, said the speech helped point out the many obstacles and successes Tupelo has experienced in less than a year.

“For the first eight months of his term and all he’s been through, he’s done a good job,” Rumbarger said.

Shelton and other city officials responded to tragedy in December when a bank robber shot two Tupelo Police Department officers, resulting in the death of Sgt. Gale Stauffer and critically injuring Patrolman Joseph Maher.

Families of both officers attended the speech and received standing ovations.

Many residents donated food and other items and services to Tupelo police and other law enforcement as the FBI led the investigation that ended when the robber died during an attempted robbery in Phoenix, Ariz.

“When our officers came under attack, our community responded with a tremendous outpouring of love and support,” he said.

Before the shootings that stung much of the community, City Council members and Shelton had completed the fiscal year 2014 budget due in mid-September. In an early victory as mayor, Shelton convinced the council to support creating an in-house attorney position for city legal services, which an outside legal firm has historically handled on a contractual basis.

The balanced budget included no tax increase and didn’t dip into city reserves, a sign the local economy continues to rebound after struggling to emerge from lingering challenges of the recent national recession.

Councilman Willie Jennings of Ward 7 said early months of a new city administration usually involve elected officials learning dynamics of different personalities. He welcomed Shelton’s emphasis on unity.

“It’s going to take the effort of all of us as a team to come together as a team and be successful,” he said.

Council President Nettie Davis introduced Shelton as he prepared to deliver his speech. She said the mayor hit all the right notes.

“Unity is my number one theme,” she said. “His speech was very appropriate.”

Councilman Lynn Bryan of Ward 2 said he gives Shelton high marks so far. Supportive of the mayor’s goals, Bryan said healthy debate and discussion can lead to improved actions and plans.

“If we agreed on everything, no new ideas would be brought forth,” he said.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com


  • Lied-To

    “However, he offered few specifics on how the city will achieve any of these goals.” – Wow, that’s news. Not. He campaigned that way. Why change now. I was lied to in voting for him.

  • Kevin

    People quit saying “NOT!” back in 1992, Lied-To. The following are my suggestions on how to improve the city of Tupelo. 1.) get rid of all the bible thumpers, 2.) downsize the Tupelo Police Department because all they do is harass black people and scarf down do-nuts., 3.) bring in some locally owned people who know how to run restaurants so that way we won’t have Gordon Ramsey or that other British jerk coming down here and telling us that we’re a bunch of stupid rednecks. 4.) outlaw hunter’s camo, 5.) become a bigger city with more available young people to date, 6.) outlaw teenage pregnancies and forbid people younger than 27 from getting married. It seems that so many Tupelo people got married at age 18, divorced by age 21 (after their third child), and remarried by age 23 only to be divorced again by age 25 (after their fifth child). This brings me to my final point, Tupelo schools need to push birth control at a very young age, I’d say in kindergarten and have it reinforced year in and year out–that if you have a child, you will be impoverished and your kids won’t have a freakin’ chance!

    As my grandpa said, you can’t polish doo-doo. Tupelo will alway suck because it’s a no-good hick town and that’s it!