Jason Patterson Editor & PublisherFour months into the year the Yazoo Chamber of Commerce has welcomed four new businesses to the community. That’s encouraging news for Yazoo City, especially considering that these new businesses are spread out over the community.
Mutual Credit Union was the first to open, providing a serious boost to the new life seen in the Fifteenth Street business district. Manager Diane Copes reported that the Yazoo branch welcomed more new business upon opening than any other Mutual branch.
Next up was Tom’s On Main, which has been a tremendous blessing to the efforts to revitalize Main Street. The place is packed every time I visit.
The Chamber then welcomed Visions Physical Therapy. The business opened next to Rite Aid, filling the only void in that shopping center that had been briefly vacant. With renovations taking place at the former Essco location next to McDade’s, our shopping centers will all be at full capacity.
That’s something that many communities would love to be able to say, especially those in the Delta.
Taste A Vision was the most recent new business to join the Chamber. This new restaurant not only offers another great dining experience, but it also brings much needed life to the former Kentucky Fried Chicken location downtown. Yazoo needs a strong restaurant in that location, and native daughter Carol Jean Ellis seams to have a plan for a business that will thrive.
These small businesses are part of the backbone of our community. More are on the horizon, and I’m looking forward to cutting some more ribbons in the coming months.
Despite all of the positive momentum, great obstacles remain. None are greater than the dysfunctional state of affairs within our city school district.
In the two city council meetings since the district was placed on probation by the state’s accreditation board, the issue hasn’t even been discussed. Our aldermen aren’t responsible for running the school district, but they are responsible for appointing the people who are. With all of the problems that currently exist, it would seem like a good time to be hearing from these appointees about their plans to turn things around.
There is no bigger issue in our community today. It should be treated like the emergency that it is.
The city has made some real progress in the battle against blight. Those efforts have hit another gear since Russ Carter was hired as building inspector.
But it’s no small task. There are many dilapidated properties in the city. Cleaning them up is a sensitive issue that elected officials are often reluctant to address, but it’s something that is critical to the welfare of any city.
Abandoned homes or buildings with overgrown lots spread like cancer in neighborhoods. Few people with the means to get away from such filth will tolerate it. And why would they?
I recently had a conversation with a business owner who was considering making a significant investment in Yazoo City, but he was concerned that the town might be dying. His concern was based on the observation that he saw dilapidated properties in the historic district of town and even spotted a house that had clearly burned long ago still standing on North Street. It was inconceivable to him that a healthy town would tolerate such a mess.
As much ink as I’ve dedicated to this subject, some of you may be wishing that I’d climb down from my soap box and move on to another topic, but I believe we must stay on top of this issue before the problem becomes insurmountable. We’re making progress, but we must keep our feet firmly placed on the accelerator if we want to keep moving forward.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorWhen my son James climbed up in my lap the other night to give me a good night kiss, I felt the familiar feeling of peanut butter and jelly on my cheek.
A little sample of supper remained on his top lip and it somehow managed to outrun my dish rag.
Walking into my bathroom to wipe it off, I couldn’t help but stare at it for a moment.
Those PB&J kisses are probably the best ones around.
I have had many readers tell me how much they love my columns because of my subject material. I have even had a few to tell me to write about something else.
Other than childhood memories of my own, I write about my family.
My children take up most of my time. Sitting at my computer to write my columns, I am surrounded by photographs of my children and husband with a few pieces of kindergarten artwork as well.
My family is my life.
Nothing makes me happier than a mother who has far more experience and wisdom than me tell me she can relate to things I write in my columns.
Some have told me it reminds them of raising their own children. A few have even given me tips.
But all of them have always told me to enjoy these moments while they last. I have even seen tears in some of their eyes as they remind me that it goes by very quickly.
There are moments when the world seems to drag you on. Your patience runs thin. Work consumes your time. And life simply takes a toll.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there are some nights at home when I just ask myself how will I get through another day of deadlines, stress and bad news.
But I have found that the best remedy is seeing my two children run toward me with smiles of their faces and skips in their steps.
They don’t know about those bad moments. They probably wouldn’t care to hear about my bad day, or at least they wouldn’t understand it. They don’t have “bad” days yet.
All they know is that their Mommy is home, and they are happy.
That moment is what makes the bad days go away.
Now mind you, I am still the mother who can give spankings, issue a few time outs and send a kid to his room. But I am also the mother who applies bandages, gives hugs freely and will kiss a kid into submission.
All the good and the bad that come with being a mother is well worth it.
I know there will come a day when my children will be too cool to hug me goodbye at school. Saying I love you may prove hard. And those PB&J kisses will surely disappear.
But they will still be my kids, and they will always be mine.
These moments don’t last forever, and there will come a day when they will be gone. But I don’t plan to miss one second of them.
So, yes, I do write about my family more than the average person might.
But I savor these memories, and I want to capture everyone of them.
It’s not everyday you can write about pet snakes, midnight hugs, baseball games and dance recitals.
It’s not everyday that you become a mom.
Jason Patterson Editor & PublisherMy initial reaction to the news that the Mississippi Department of Corrections plans to close the facility that allows inmates to work in Yazoo was selfish.
“How are we going to afford to replace that labor,” I thought.
State inmates provide a valuable service locally by helping keep the cemetery maintained, picking up debris and performing other duties.
Some people refer to this as “free” labor, but it’s far from free. The average cost for a minimum security state inmate (the inmates who present less risk to the public) is $49.50 per day, which comes to $18,067.50 per year. We might as well be sending them to college.
With such significant investments being made, the taxpayers have a right to expect something in return. Nonviolent offenders - all of them - should be expected to work. The small work center operated in Yazoo City provides a tremendous service to this community. The city will likely struggle to fill the void when the inmate labor is gone without either raising taxes or pulling workers from other jobs. I think most Yazooans would agree that the last thing we need is any less attention to any current responsibilities.
I understand that the MDOC must look for ways to save money, and the reported savings from closing Yazoo’s satellite work center are significant. But I don’t see why the MDOC can’t inform the nonviolent state inmates residing at the regional correctional facility in Yazoo that they will be reporting to work in the morning.
“Boys I’ve got some bad news. From now on instead of getting our exercise playing basketball and other games, we’re going to be pushing lawnmowers and picking up trash.”
That would not only give something back to the taxpayers who are spending so much money housing inmates, but it would also give those inmates an opportunity to experience an honest day’s work.
I believe that every reasonable effort should be made to help inmates have a better chance to actually become productive members of society when they are released. Programs to help earn a GED or learn some job skills are worthwhile. The more an inmate can learn, the better chance he has of getting a job on the outside.
Learning that hard work won’t kill you is one of the first lessons many of these offenders need to learn.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on corrections, and I’m sure there would be costs that I haven’t considered. But I don’t see why the personnel currently used at the work center can’t be transferred to picking up inmates at the regional jail and taking them out on daily work assignments.
These costs will be reduced from the MDOC budget, but they will be passed along on the local level. Yazoo City residents are going to tolerate Glenwood Cemetery being allowed to return to the state it was in when the city wasn’t allowed to use state inmate labor. It was disgraceful. Someone is going to have to pick up the tab. Considering that our city leaders were recently trying to figure out why the street department can’t even keep the streets swept, I don’t think Yazoo City is going to be able to take on the responsibility without raising taxes.
MDOC needs to reconsider this decision and look for other ways to save.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorAs a reporter, there are always a few of those stories that leave a place in your heart.
That was the case for me in tracking down the story behind Callaway, a kind dog who has found a special place at Benton Academy.
As I conducted a few interviews and followed Callaway around the school campus one day, I kept thinking back to the Willie Morris classic, My Dog Skip.
There is nothing more sincere and heartwarming than a story of a good dog and a child.
Growing up, my mother had a small, gentle Shih Tzu who we called Kelly. We drove hours to buy her because Momma said she would be a good dog “with papers.”
I think I was in junior high when we brought Kelly home for the first time. She was a small ball of black and white fur with a tiny nose and a mouth full of puppy breath.
Being my mother’s only child, she was my constant playmate and true friend. No matter how bad of a day I had at school, she was always there with a wagging tail. Even when I was a little grumpy and didn’t have time for her, she would follow me around the house and wait on me to come around.
She was loyal and just a good dog.
Kelly remained at home when I ventured off to college. It got to a point when I only saw her about every other weekend. Perhaps it was the time left between us, but I don’t think I ever noticed how much older Kelly got with each year.
It actually kicked me in the stomach when I noticed she was running into walls and couldn’t follow me around as much. She had gone blind at some point in time.
It wasn’t long before she couldn’t walk around at all. She had to scoot along the wall to figure out where she was going.
The dog that used to jump up on the couch to snuggle under a blanket couldn’t even lift her paw up on it anymore. We had to pick her up.
When I left home for good to start my own family, it never occurred to me how Kelly must have felt.
Her best friend was gone. I wasn’t there to pick her up on the couch anymore. I wasn’t there to brush her hair into a ponytail on top of her head. I wasn’t there to scratch behind her ears. I just wasn’t there.
I know the house must have seemed empty to her. And I can only imagine what it felt like to be alone, blind.
Kelly did have a blessing with my Momma though. Momma was also getting used to an empty house. I am sure those two pulled each other through that tough transition.
Sadly, Kelly died only a few days after my grandmother died. Her once shiny coat was dull and thin. Her expressive eyes were dark with blindness. She had lost a lot of weight. And her puppy breath had long been gone.
But she was still a ball of love. She was still my friend.
I don’t even think I got to say goodbye to her. With the hustle and bustle of children and sick family members, I don’t think I ever had the chance.
I was at Momma’s house not too long ago, shifting through a box in my old room when I found an old letter with my familiar childhood writing.
It was a letter to “Santa Paws” that I had put together for Kelly. She wanted a bone, a rubber chew toy and bacon for Christmas that year.
I must admit, I teared up a little.
I have had my share of pets over the years. I have even shared a column or two with readers about my dog Roho at my grandparents’ house.
Kelly was a registered pooch while Roho was a mutt. But both dogs were my childhood companions.
They followed me on foot or bike. They let me dress them up in doll clothes and push them around in baby carriages. They were my pillows on family movie night. They were my partners in crime and even sat with me in a few “time outs.”
They were my outfielders in a sandlot ball game. They were my cheerleaders in a backyard basketball game.
They were my feet warmers in the dead of winter. They were my face lickers in the dog days of summer.
They were my protectors from the switch. They were my guards at night.
They watched me grow up and sadly, they watched me leave.
But they remained, constant and loyal.
Callaway reminds me of that feeling you get with a childhood dog. The students at Benton Academy have found their own “Kelly” and their own “Roho” in him.
I understand now the appeal of a good dog and I see what Willie Morris was feeling when he wrote his book.
With that being said, I think it is only right to end this with his words. I think it says it all when it comes to the bond between a child and their dog.
I received a trans-atlantic call one day. "Skip died,” Daddy said. He and my mama wrapped him in my baseball jacket. They buried him out under the elm tree, they said. That wasn’t totally true. For he really lay buried in my heart.
Walter Patterson Herald ColumnistHere we go again. The bombing in Boston last Monday has given new life to every leftist in the country. Expect your civil liberties to rapidly disappear in order for the government to “protect the people.”
The Second Amendment will be bulldozed even though it appears that pressure cookers containing explosives were used to injure and kill innocent people in attendance at the Boston Marathon.
No legitimate news outlet has reported that guns were used to kill at least three people and injure over 170. Yet, the liberals in Congress see the opportunity to attack the Second Amendment – and they will with an intensity that is almost scary to watch.
Already, a Congresswoman, Shelia Jackson-Lee, has said on the floor of the House of Representatives that the “sequester” caused this terror attack. Joe Biden has claimed that Congress is close to passing a gun control bill.
Of course this bill has absolutely nothing to do with what happened in Boston. The bill would not prevent one death from occurring, yet these mental giants doggedly move their agenda forward.
Elizabeth Warren, the ultra-liberal socialist Senator from Massachusetts, praised President Obama for “being engaged.” Since she is a rock solid supporter of the most liberal President in the history of this country, she failed to mention the fact that President Obama slashed the budget for domestic bomb prevention by 45 percent. Yet the liberals in our government are fawning at the possibility that Obama is “engaged.”
What nonsense. This bombing is a failure of the government to protect its people. Homeland Security has spent billions of dollars, yet someone or some group, set two bombs that destroyed the lives of a large number of innocent people. Homeland Security is a political wing of the Democrat Party. Not only has it failed to make the nation safer, it has actually made things worse.
Take immigration, for example.
Janet Napolitano, the most incompetent Cabinet Secretary in the history of the country, has failed to enforce immigration laws that are already on the books. Like Obama, her boss, she wants amnesty for the millions of illegal aliens who have walked across the Mexican border right into the nearest welfare office to pick up their EBT and Medicaid Cards. Common sense tells us that among those thousands illegally crossing the border, some are terrorists. But who cares in this government? They can all be registered as Democrat voters. Naturally, this will speed up the radical changing of this country from a first world country to a third world country, but this is the utopian dream of the leftists.
We have spent billions of dollars for intelligence information, yet someone walks into a crowd in Boston and detonates not one bomb, but two.
If you concluded that this terrorist attack is a shining example of why government cannot protect you, you are correct. Every expensive system put in place by our government failed. Obama, in his haste to make the world love us, has allowed Saudi nationals to come to this country with only the background check done by the Saudi government.
What ever happened to “trust but verify?” The Saudi government plays both ends against the middle. When it is in their interest to cozy up to the to the U. S., they do it.
Otherwise, they are more than happy to see terrorism come to our streets and towns. How many Saudi nationals are in this country with malice on their minds?
Over the next few weeks, expect some of the most insane accusations imaginable leveled at individuals who support the Second Amendment and at conservatives.
Already, news groups, in order to protect a weak president, have tried to conjure up the notion that a right wing militia group or a Tea Party activist may be the responsible party for the Boston bombing.
I have heard no news person speculate that left wing extremists like Bill Ayres are Bernadine Dhorn could be responsible. These two are left wing nuts who actually set off bombs at the Pentagon and elsewhere, and they are both good friends with the President.
It is time to focus on what really happened in Boston. We had a catastrophic government failure. None of the agencies did their jobs. All of them should have realized that it was only a matter of time before terror returned to our shores.
They didn’t and the terrorist were allowed to explode their bombs. It was a bad day for Boston. It was a terrible and tragic day for the victims. It was a bad day for Americans. It was a bad day for government agencies, especially Homeland Security and our intelligence services.
Unless we have a wave of commonsense come over our leaders, it will be a bad day for our freedoms. You can count on that.