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Sunday, August 4, 2002

By Staff
How to fail in making a city grow, without really trying
To the editor:
Sit back and let me tell you the story of an old lady named Meridian. She was born in 1831 and soon opened her home to many travelers as residents. Legend has it that at one time she housed over 51,000 people. Her home was so large that she was known as "The Queen" and although she is no longer that big, she still uses that moniker.
In 1980 a man named Mr. Census told her that she had about 46,000 people under her roof. Mrs. Meridian was proud of her home, good education, safe living conditions, happy and healthy people. Things were so good that in the mid-1980's Redbook Magazine actually heralded her high school for its educational prowess.
The problems began there. Somewhere around 1988 Meridian got very greedy. She wanted more, lots more. She asked if she could double the number of people in her home and almost triple the size of her home. People who lived outside of her home in another home called "The County" got very upset. Those people enjoyed their home in "The County." They didn't have all the amenities that those in Meridian's home had, but they had more room and fewer hassles.
So some of the people in Meridian's home got very upset because they felt neglected. Some moved to larger homes, some moved to smaller homes, some moved to the beach or the mountains, but most of them moved to "The County."
Since 1980 between 6,000 and 10,000 people left Meridian for "The County." Many inside Meridian's home cried for better streets, better shopping, safer streets, and better schools. Meridian did try. She attempted to pass bond issues to better schools. Witherspoon for example was a place that desperately needed repair and Meridian attempted to place a Band-Aid on a broken arm. Meridian refurbished her home, making way for new places like "North Hills" and "Bonita." She even added to her home on the Bonita side to suck as many tax dollars out of that area as possible.
She kept working on the exterior of her home but she forgot about the centerpiece of her home. If there was something old in the "Downtown" of her home she tore it down. Unfortunately she attempted to pump money into an Opera House that isn't all that Grand. I say tear it down, too. More empty lots downtown. It appears to be the wave of the future. The few people that live in the upstairs of her home cry for this and that and they get it because they live upstairs. They can afford it. The head of her security system left a few years ago and where did he go? Greener pastures, you guessed it. He moved to "The County." The leadership of the education also left and went on to bigger and better things. People in her home began a mass exodus to such places as Alamucha, Zero, Schamberville, and Eagle Pointe.
So Meridian thought to herself: "How to keep people in my home?" A water park in the creek in the backyard is a great idea! Sowashee Water Park! Yes! Oh wait, does that mean we actually have to use the water from that creek? Nevermind. Baseball! Baseball will save the city! Then the Brakemen became the Brokemen and the Bombers never got off the ground.
Some people upstairs said; "What about a convention center?" Great for concerts and conferences. So that's exactly what they got  an Agri-Center. Wait? Agri-Center, they wanted a convention center and what they got was a large barn.
Maybe we could slap some sort of saying or get some stamp-of-approval on our welcome mat. Perhaps we can be a "Certified Retirement City." Well, even her neighbor Scooba could qualify for that. Then she thought, well, we have these old horses, maybe they can save the city. So she decided to decorate the entire home in carousel horses. So far five people have stopped to look at them. (One was a tourist asking for directions.)
So more and more people leave than are moving in. I say Meridian needs to stop kicking the dead horse (excuse the pun). She needs to take a long look in the mirror at herself and attempt to please those in her home before she attempts to add more people and land and make them pay her bills.
Caleb Smith
The whole city needs to grow
To the editor:
Meridian needs to grow. It has not grown since the early sixties. It has been in decline for quite some time. If you oppose growth for whatever reason and feel you can't tolerate the progress and other aspects that come with it, please leave. There will be at least three people to replace you that are positive to growth and understand that this area can't continue to live in the past and want to be part of a progressive growing city.
I do agree with a fellow reader's letter to the editor that pointed out that Meridian is a retirement city but the city cannot live off retirees alone. The city and county need to address the young adults of working age also. What are our area leaders doing to address the problem of a lack of high paying jobs? Every county in this area except Lauderdale County has been announcing that a new manufacturing business will be opening soon and bringing better paying jobs to that particular county.
Citizens of Lauderdale County, you need to place your elected county, city and in some cases business leaders under the microscope. Are they addressing all the peoples needs or just a selected few special interest groups? It is no secret that if high paying jobs moved into this area, that local home grown companies would have to raise their hourly wages to be competitive and this would jeopardize their own personal fortunes.
It's been said by some local business leaders that Meridian's local work force doesn't have what it takes to operate on or in a high technology playing field. This is simply not true. Anyone can be trained with the proper teaching techniques and facilities if they are made available. There are very few, if any, people that are born to compete and perform at a high level of performance. They all received training at some point.
I think it's time to vote out some of our bench warmer, paycheck collecting, lip servicing, arrogant, what have you done for me lately, do nothing elected officials. I think its time to let the local business leaders know you will not cower when threatened with the company being moved out of the area if they don't get what they want. Let them go because there are other companies that want to be here and want to come here that will pay you more.
I'm not saying give away the farm, but do whatever it takes to accommodate and cultivate positive growth in this area for the whole and not just for a certain part.
Michael Thomas
Barking dogs
To the editor:
How is it that your neighbor can have 10-15 dogs penned up in their front yard and Supervisor Hitt thinks it is not dangerous to children, even though they appear to be shepherds? Are there no safety concerns in Lauderdale County? Health concerns. Property value concerns. Noise pollution. Why doesn't the Health Department get involved?
You can't have a couple of pigs but you can have 15 barking dogs.
Rose Alexander