By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
VERONA – On his third day as Verona’s new mayor, Robert Trice likened his vision for the city to that of a gardener’s, cleaning up and working with the city, like the earth, to encourage growth.
“It will be a team effort,” he said. “To clean up, improve safety, work toward friendliness – all of this will work as an agent to attract new homeowners and businesses to Verona.”
He said his goal is to make Verona a place people want to live. But he said residents and community activists have to be honest with themselves when working toward growth.
“When I was campaigning, people were asking me what I was going to do about jobs or about getting a store,” he said. “We’re on the border line of Tupelo. While anything is possible, I doubt we’ll build a mall in Verona, so we have to find something else to bring tax dollars.”
Trice said that while a factory like Toyota or a mall are unlikely, a nice grocery store or a Dollar Tree is realistic.
In order to attract investors and business owners, Trice said the community needs to work together toward friendliness and away from crime. He said he will put his trust in Police Chief Anthony Anderson to bring crime down in the city.
He said he and the board are going to work to make sure property owners take care of their property, keeping the buildings up to code and the yards looking nice.
“Business people, investors and people with money who are able to do things don’t just throw their money to the wind,” he said. “They investigate the cities they invest in. They drive through the cities and check out the school system, police department, fire protection and the cosmetic of the city and decide if it’s a place where they can make money.”
Trice said he wants to finish the Safe Routes to School project he started before becoming mayor, to not only improve safety but to instill an idea of community.
“We want word to get out how safe it is, how clean it is – a nice friendly town,” he said. “We could be Mayberry.”
He stressed that this will require honesty, work and investment on the part of all Verona residents.
“If Veronians don’t spend their money in Verona, businesses won’t stay,” he said. “We have to patronize our town.”