It’s time to pick up Pope
By Joanna Patton
At a recent meeting of the Pope Women’s Club, Mayor Ricky Briscoe gave a presentation on the status of the Town of Pope. As with most moments of enlightenment, there were more questions than answers available.
Once a quaint town, with a grocery store, barber shop, cotton gin, bank, post office and church, Pope offered a gathering place for residents in the southernmost edge of Panola County. Gentlemen engaging in dominoes under the awnings, children playing under the shade trees — it was a beautiful place with a pastoral setting. Although the trains came through during the Sunday morning church services, you sang louder or found out if your preacher could hold his own against the whistle.
Today, Pope stands in ruins. The former barber shop is an eyesore, the bank has moved to the highway, the buildings are dilapidated and dangerous. The cotton gin is falling to pieces. The few residential homes that are left in the downtown area have fallen into disrepair. What happened?
This in no way is meant to diminish the outstanding efforts of the Pope Women’s Club (they have worked diligently to create a lovely garden space in the middle of the town) or the Pope Baptist Church annexation. Thank you for saving the trees.
Assigning blame is useless. There is only so much your elected officials can do. It takes a long time and a lot of people not paying attention for a small town to fall into such disrepair. Twenty years can go by very quickly if nobody cares.
The Town of Pope suffers from infrastructure problems, little or no tax base, stringent property lines and water and sewage issues. According to Mayor Briscoe, there is "a lifetime of work to do." He’s right. Some of the issues will take years to resolve, lots of money that’s not available and legislative work to correct previous mistakes and decisions.
In the meantime, Pope School stands as a beacon for families in the area. Praises for the faculty, administration and students are numerous. Families from outside the district are moving into the area for no other reason than to send their children to Pope School.
A school, a town, a church or even a family, is only as good as the people who care about it. There are still a lot of people who care about Pope.
This Saturday, April 29 at 8a.m. will be the first of many opportunities for former and current residents, businessmen and women, students, children, youth groups, scout groups and just plain ole do-gooders to come together.
The Pope Women’s Club is sponsoring a day devoted to cleaning and giving back to the little town that so many of us call home.
"TAKE PRIDE IN POPE" is calling on everyone who can contribute in some small way. Meet and greet your neighbors in downtown Pope Saturday morning, enjoy participating in a clean up project that everyone can benefit from and give back to a little corner of the world that deserves some attention.
Joanna Patton is a former Pope resident and member of the Pope Women’s Club. For more information on how you can help this Saturday, contact Joanna at 561-0089 or Pope Women’s Club President Jimmie Cole at 563-9697.