While this revelation is perhaps more typically applied to our personal lives, I think it can apply to communities as well.
We have a Yoshino Cherry Tree in our backyard garden. It’s about 30 feet tall, towering over our azaleas. All winter it has been barren. It has been bent and blown as severe thunderstorms swept through Tupelo. This winter it has even survived rare snows. Well-rooted, decades old, it has survived. This week it once again has exploded with brilliant beautiful white blossoms. “I’m back” it has silently, proudly proclaimed.
I believe this will be a metaphor for our communities’ experience this past year with the Toyota Automobile Assembly Plant at Blue Springs. What a harsh winter for Toyota: the recession combined with the recalls and their day-after-day bad news reports. But now a thawing seems to be in the air. The company is selling cars, and some of the worst news stories have been brought into serious doubt.
Twelve miles from Tupelo sits the world’s most modern automobile assembly building. Toyota is on schedule to make its first $5,000,0000 gift to our three-county educational fund in May. It will make its first bond payment to the state in April. The State of Mississippi, just this week, has budgeted more money to improve Highway 9 for routes to and from the new plant. I believe that, like our Japanese Yoshina Cherry Tree, Toyota will announce that it is resuming its operations here, with its blooming job opportunities and tremendous economic impact. What a beautiful spring that could be!
Another spectacular and comforting sign sent as a gift in the sky is the rainbow. Last week I was working at my desk at City Hall. My windows face west and I saw a dark cloud approaching; followed shortly by the patter of light rain, then much harder rain and hail. The storm was hard, but short. Almost immediately bright sunshine replaced it. I quickly got up and ran out into Fairpark to look east, hoping to see a rainbow. I was not disappointed.There, above the water tank over Elvis’ birthplace, were the multi-colors gracing our town.
I think this could be a metaphor for our community’s recent experience in dealing with our Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton’s rehiring of past Deputy Chief Robert Hall.
I asked Chief Carleton one question when we discussed this move: “Do you believe this will make Tupelo a safer city?”
He said, “Absolutely.” I said, “Then I’ve got your back.”
Hopefully now this storm too, has passed, and we can move ahead building the kind of city we all want together.
I truly believe that our City Council and I have recommitted ourselves to being Tupelo’s one team. Tuesday night’s unanimous passage of our progressive Complete Streets Policy is the perfect example that a thoughtful, give-and-take process can result in progressive legislation that will make Tupelo a greater city.
Someone has written, “Tough times don’t last; tough people do.”
Whether it’s weathering tough unemployment times, or tough community disagreements, I know Tupelo and Lee County and Northeast Mississippi are strong enough and tough enough to last.
The cherry trees and the rainbows have reminded me to hang in there. I’m looking forward to a beautiful spring, for all of us.
Jack Reed, Jr., is mayor of Tupelo. Contact him through his communications officer, Anna Freeman Wyatt, (662) 687-2500 or (662) 841-6525, or e-mail www.ci.tupelo.ms.us.