TUPELO – An old saying in government goes that if you want to get nothing done quickly, form a committee.
Except perhaps in Tupelo.
Since the August formation of five new municipal groups, the city has witnessed a flurry of activity as each one tackles its assigned goal.
Four of the groups were the brainchild of Mayor Jack Reed Jr., who assembled one task force to implement each of his campaign visions: Make Tupelo the state’s healthiest city; and a center for lifelong learning; with safer neighborhoods; and more jobs.
The fifth group was the work of the previous mayor and City Council, who saw a need for community-wide public transportation but didn’t know how best to provide it.
So before leaving in office in June, they created a five-member Public Transportation Committee. They left the task of appointing those members, however, to the current mayor and council, which filled the seats in August – the same month the task forces got started.
Three months later, the city has on its desk a proposed contract for a temporary public transportation system. If leaders approve it, a regular bus route could begin by Christmas.
“Let’s ride the bus while we have the ticket in hand. Let’s move,” member Jim Casey said during one of the group’s meetings this month.
Casey and the others have urged swift action in their domain, recognizing a need for immediate service while still carefully mulling a more long-term plan.
Also moving quickly is the Mayor’s Task Force on Health, which on Oct. 31 organized a Family Fitness Day. The event helped kicked off a month-long initiative called the Mayor’s Marathon, urging residents to walk 26.2 miles in a bid to win a $50,000 Healthy Hometown Award from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.
“We’re becoming the healthiest city in Mississippi one step at a time,” said Kathy Tucker, a member of the task force and a staff member at HealthWorks! Children’s Health Education Center.
The Mayor’s Task Force on Education last month hosted its own event called “Read Tupelo” in which municipal leaders and other volunteers read books to roughly 400 prekindergarten children at the BancorpSouth Arena.
“My vision when I ran for office was to make Tupelo a center for lifelong learning,” Reed said during the event. “The task force wanted to celebrate the earlier learners.”
The other task forces also remain busy, meeting frequently and discussing strategies to bolster the local economy and improve neighborhoods and public spaces.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal