John Howell Sr. Editorial 4/25/2014

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 25, 2014

Como, Crenshaw, Sardis leaders urged to push for CDBG

We wrote last Friday that a public hearing in Como April 23 was the most important immediate deadline facing the north Panola municipality’s town government.

The meeting came and went. Three people, plus the representative from the North Delta Planning and Development District (NDPDD) and a reporter showed up.

We learned that one of the most important factors in grading Como’s application for a $450,000 grant to begin rehab of its wastewater treatment and sanitary sewer system is letters from people whose homes are affected. We also learned that NDPDD will accept those letters until May 12.

The problem is that people who are most likely to experience sewage problems are often — for whatever reason — least likely to write letters or even to be aware that they need to.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The solution, as we discussed during the public hearing Wednesday, is for town officials — the mayor and aldermen — to own the problem. They know who calls them when it rains and complains that their commode won’t flush. They know who calls when sewage backs up in their yard. Mayor Hill and alderpersons Heard, Walton, Higgenbottom, Powell and Dishmon need to visit in person the people who have complained about sewage problems and say, “If you want something done about it, you need to write a letter, right now.”

Further, when the town officials visit homes that have been the source of sewage complaints, they need to take paper and pen with them and not leave until they have in their hands a signed letter from the resident.

The letter can simply state: “My name is so-and-so and I live at such-and-such Street in Como, Mississippi. When it rains, my commode won’t flush.”

Letters are the best way to add points for Como’s CDBG application to earn a higher grade. What’s more, form letters won’t do. The mayor and aldermen going door to door in Como to get letters signed is what it will take to get the job done.

But wait, there’s more!

NDPDD tell us that Sardis and Crenshaw are seeking similar CDBG grants of $450,000 for towns under 3,500 population, both also for badly needed infrastructure rehabilitation.

Letters are just as valuable for those applications as well, NDPDD officials tell us, so here’s the same suggestion:
In Crenshaw, Mayor Barlow and alderpersons Bradley, Reed, Doddson, Mayo and Perry need to be go with pen and paper in hand to their constituents who are concerned about water safety, purity and pressure and say: “Write me a letter.”

Same in Sardis. Mayor Russell and alderpersons Jones, Scallorn, Still, Rayburn and Smith need to go similarly equipped to people who have complained about sewer problems and say … you know what to say.

Going door to door and furnishing writing materials for constituents and then twisting their arms to get them to write a letter is not exactly in the job description of a mayor or alderman. It’s sorta like politicking. But it’s public service.