BILOXI - The Mississippi Municipal League (MML) honored the 2021 Municipal Excellence Awards Winners at the 90th Annual MML Conference Award Luncheon held in Biloxi, at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, July 26-28.
Clarksdale city leaders attended MML and voted earlier this year to send Mayor Chuck Espy as a voting delegate and Ward 4 Commissioner Ed Seals as an alternate voting delegate.
Clarksdale City Clerk Cathy Clark was recognized at Immediate Past President of the Mississippi City Clerk Association.
The MML Excellence Awards program recognizes cities that utilize innovative problem solving, excellence in management, citizen participation and community partnerships to provide increased services and a better quality of life for its local citizenry.
The 2021 Excellence Awards winners are as follows:
Public Safety Over 10,000
City of Greenville: “Greenville Police and Fire Academy”
Under the current administration, the city of Greenville and its Police and Fire Departments launched its restorative justice programs. The programs consisted of two 5-day camps with the Greenville Police Department and Fire Department. These camps were designed for children and young adults in the city of Greenville in an effort to reduce overall crime, disrupt the cycle of poverty and incarceration, reduce, and eliminate fire deaths, promote health and wellness, enhance life skills and community unity through education, community risk reduction and prevention. The camps were also intended to provide young children and young adults with hands-on experience in law enforcement, CPR, PPCT, police use-of-force, crime scene investigations and role of law enforcement officers to reduce overall crime and promote public safety, wellness, and health in the community.
Public Safety Under 10,000
City of Columbia: “Safe and Secure Neighborhood Initiative”
COVID-19 brought a changing landscape of crime within the Columbia community. The city saw an increase in violent crimes, particularly domestic violence, and drive-by shootings, as well as property crimes. In response, the Safe and Secure Neighborhood Initiative was launched in October 2020, which serves the purpose of creating a safer Columbia by reducing violent crime, ensuring the safety of their residents, and building trust and partnerships in their neighborhood.
City Spirit Over 10,000
City of Pascagoula: “Pascagoula Pride”
Pascagoula Pride is a non-profit organization dedicated to beautifying Pascagoula to enhance the livability and marketability of the city. In the last year, Pride has dedicated $425,000 to improvements at the city's Beach Park. The Park overlooking the Mississippi Sound has always been a popular place for locals and visitors. The improvements have made the park more welcoming, giving the city a beautiful venue to host events and for families to enjoy.
City Spirit Under 10,000
Town of Plantersville: “St. Jude Bike-A-Thon”
No project better exemplifies the community spirit of Plantersville than the St. Jude Bike-A-Thon, which has been held now for 30 straight years and raised over $200,000 for the world renown children's hospital. Annually, the town comes together to financially support the hospital (which takes $2.8 million a day to operate). In spring of 2020, the world was rocked by the global COVID-19 pandemic and nearly all events were completely postponed or cancelled. The easy thing for the community members to do would have been to fold up shop until next year. Instead, the community came together to put on a safe event for all involved and still raise funds for the hospital.
Economic Development Over 10,000
City of Clinton: “Lions Club Park”
Serving as an anchor for historic Olde Towne Clinton, the Lions Club Park helps expand the footprint of the district. The project experienced many hurdles, including the eventual sale of the park site to a private developer for a housing project. When the original site sale was being proposed, it became a condition of the sale that the park be relocated to an undeveloped site across the street. While this housing project was in the planning stages for many years, the park project was on hold. When the new development became a reality, Mayor Phil Fisher formed a steering committee to move forward with a park redesign for the new location. The committee consisted of members from the Clinton Lions Club, Main Street Clinton, Mississippi College, and the city of Clinton. The committee had several goals, such as the park needed to be handicap accessible, must include a pavilion, a walking path, and lighting, and the iconic caterpillar climber had to be used in the park. Through the efforts of various organizations and individuals, Lions Club Park was dedicated and opened in May 2020.
Economic Development Under 10,000
Town of North Carrolton: “North Carrollton Decorative Banners/Signage”
The town of North Carrollton worked with the county using inmate labor which was a cost savings. These efforts resulted in North Carrollton being able to get more welcome banners and decorative signs with its budget amount for this project. The appearance of each neighborhood throughout North Carrollton has had a positive impact by this project. Every street provides a welcoming appearance to the entrance of town when coming into the city limits. The project was completed after several months, the result benefited neighborhoods and the business district. The feedback from residents and visitors has been tremendous, many have taken pride that their town is living up to its full potential. This project has produced a clean, organized, and updated coordinated appearance for North Carrollton.
Public Works Over 10,000
City of Starkville: “4-P Initiative for Proactive Infrastructure Reinvestment”
If one were to realize current events by watching the news channels, it is not lost on any rational human being that the United States' infrastructure is failing at an unprecedented rate. Whereas most communities elect to defer the infrastructure repairs until a federal or state grant program provides a means of investment, the City of Starkville recognized that it is more important to invest proactively in lieu of waiting for other entities or until the infrastructure is on the brink of failure. Through a 4-P approach (Plan, Process, Progress, and Persistence), the City of Starkville has enjoyed three successful years of a newly established, and innovative program, aimed at rebuilding the City's vital infrastructure resources.
Public Works Under 10,000
Town of Sumrall: “New Water Main on Highway 589 South”
The project was completed in the summer of 2020, resulting in significant improvements in fire flow volumes for the entire annexed area. With the addition of 14 fire hydrants, which delivered flows ranging from 600 GPM to 1100 GPM, residents and businesses soon began to see additional savings on insurance premiums. Although, it took three years from the planning stages to completion, this project was fully funded without incurring any future debt on the town, and it provided the necessary services for future residential and commercial growth and development.
City of Hernando: “Hernando Dickens of A Christmas”
With a grant from the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, the city of Hernando was able to host its first holiday event. This included historic programming centering on the Victorian era, the time when the city was founded, and a holiday atmosphere surrounding the downtown attracted new shoppers. As the county seat, the City of Hernando is fortunate to be home to the DeSoto County Museum (DCM), DeSoto Arts Council (DAC) and DeSoto County Courthouse. They wanted to draw awareness of these cultural resources as well as increase tourism and economic activity in the city. What a beautiful site it was attracting residents and visitors to view the decorations. This event generated so much support from local businesses, organizations and the community that they plan to grow the event each year.
The mission of the Mississippi Municipal League is helping cities and towns excel. MML is a non-partisan association established in 1931, representing 289 city, town and village governments in Mississippi. MML is also affiliated with the National League of Cities, a lobbying, legislative and legal arm representing municipalities before the U.S. Congress.
For more information about the Mississippi Municipal League, visit www.mmlonline.com.