By Dan Burchfield
Mayor, City of Eupora
At this time of year, we should all look back at our lives and give thanks for the many blessings we have been afforded. As your public servant, I have tried in these last six months to build a strong team of municipal staff to provide as many services as we can within the money you have entrusted us.
Every employee of the city of Eupora deserves your thanks and gratitude for the sacrifices they make. All of us will never forget the ultimate sacrifice made by our friend and our neighbor, Police Officer Keith Crenshaw, who was killed in the line of duty, that same duty he loved and dedicated his life for by serving each of us.
Each employee demonstrates that belief in duty, service and responsibility in serving the public. Please keep these dedicated people in your prayers and thoughts during this time of remembering the hope and sacrifice Christ brought to this world.
With the cooperation of five brand new members of your Board of Aldermen, we have worked together to bring three main priorities of the forefront in every decision we make as your governmental representatives: economic development (bringing jobs and people to Eupora), upgrading our water and wastewater infrastructure, and repairing and repaving those streets in the city that so desperately need overlaying.
As the appointed economic development contact person in Webster County and the city of Eupora, I work as a volunteer to bring industrial and manufacturing prospects to our community. I will be the first to recognize my failure so far, but it is not without trying.
I have shown every empty building in Webster County and Eupora on numerous occasions. We have had biofuel producers, wood pellet producers, recyclables into biofuel, furniture manufacturers and storm shelter designers visit Eupora and request information concerning these buildings.
I have met personally with the staff of the Mississippi Development Authority, North Mississippi Industrial Development Association and the Tennessee Valley Authority in the hope of putting Eupora and Webster County on their radar, so that they would have a personal connection to our region.
We are working two large grants: a $100,000-plus expanded emergency siren system covering every municipality in Webster County and a $450,000 stabilization project for our sewage lagoons. With little or no money left in the city treasury to pay for these types of projects, grants are a MUST for small communities like ours.
This year, we were able to budget $12,500 for street paving. This is in keeping with the last tax increase within Eupora. We charge 24 mills of assessed property tax, and each mill beings in approximately $12,500. So taking that last tax increase and applying it solely to street paving, that money would purchase about two blocks of new asphalt! I say this to only to inform everyone that everything costs so much and we have so little available.
Christmas and New Year’s is a time of hope and faith. Each is needed by us all. Keep the hope and faith that our community will be able to reclaim its star status we had before the beginning of this century. Remember in 2000, when we had seven major industries working multiple shifts with an unemployment rate of around 5 percent?
Remember in 2000, when we had more than $1 million in general city reserves? Remember with the passage of NAFTA and within 18 months, five of those industries had shut down and all their property taxes left with the jobs?
I believe, each alderman believes and each city employee believes that Eupora and Webster County will reclaim that past success, and we will see a new renaissance in growth that will make each of us proud. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to leave our hometown better than what we had. We can, and we must!
By working cooperatively and with a belief in each other, we can shape the future into a brand new era! Keep believing; keep the faith; and keep the love and respect for each other that has made Eupora and Webster County so special. Merry Christmas and have a Happy and Wonderful New Year!