By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
Tupelo will learn today if its presentation at the All-America City competition Thursday wowed the judges enough to cinch a fourth designation.
A delegation of about 35 residents sang, danced, cheered and praised the city’s achievements before a panel of judges at the national event held in Kansas City, Mo.
Tupelo’s presentation, as well as those from 25 other vying communities, was broadcast live on the Internet. Those videos are archived on the National Civic League’s website, www.allamericacityaward.com. It also will live stream the awards ceremony from 7-9 p.m. today at NEMS360.com.
Judges seemed impressed by what they heard from Northeast Mississippi’s biggest city.
“You are the most diverse looking community,” a female judge said to the group of black, white, Asian and Indian residents. “You have found the secret of encompassing, embracing your diversity.”
Said a male judge: “Are you all going to bottle that air and sell it across the country?”
Among the achievements touted by Tupelo’s delegation were the city’s healthy initiatives like the Mayor’s Marathon and HealthWorks!; its educational efforts like the Tupelo Public School District’s laptop computer program; the redevelopment of the old fairgrounds into downtown’s Fairpark District; and its innovative Green Houses senior living facilities.
Tupelo resident Zell Long ended the 10-minute presentation by singing Elton John’s “Porch Swing in Tupelo,” which is a tribute to Elvis Presley with his Tupelo birthplace.
Judges then had 10 minutes to ask questions. They wondered about Toyota’s effect on the community; how Tupelo could continue its long trend of success; and whether the foundation started by “the newspaper man” still existed.
The newspaper man was former Daily Journal publisher George McLean, and the foundation is CREATE. It still exists, as does the Tupelo Spirit, which the delegation attributed to the community’s continued success.
As for Toyota’s impact, Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said it will help the city but not define it.
“I think we put our best feet forward,” Reed told the Daily Journal by phone following the presentation. “I was proud of our team. Let’s keep our fingers crossed now.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.