Mayor Grayson looks ahead with plans, events to come

Published 7:07 pm Monday, February 18, 2013

By Mike Grayson, Demopolis Mayor

If you are going to play, then play to win. If you are not willing to do what it takes to play to win, then don’t even play.

I open with this line of thinking since we just recently had our fifth class of inductees into the Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame. The class of 2013 included Holly Hill Beckham (DHS / Mississippi State tennis), Yann Cowart (Marengo Academy / Auburn football), Theo Ratliff (DHS / Wyoming basketball), Fred Schoenrock (DHS football coach) and Jack Thomas (Linden /Mississippi State football). All of these individuals were winners on the field and once their athletic careers ended, they have proven to be winners off the field.

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Serving as Mayor is similar, to a degree, to participating in athletics. You are in the public eye and some people keep score. You are judged on your accomplishments. People want to see results. They do not care about how hard you are working; how many people you are talking to or how many contacts you have made. It’s all about the results. Obviously, if you don’t work hard, or talk to a lot of people about your product or make contacts you are not going to get results. Sometimes you get lucky and a good thing or two may come your way, but I firmly believe that the harder you work the luckier you get.

When I was in Montgomery in insurance management, our agency credo was “Don’t tell me about the labor pains, just show me the baby.” Another way of phrasing this in straight street talk would be “results talk, stuff walks”.

I recently invited Jeff Downes, Deputy Mayor of the City of Montgomery and Chad Emerson, City of Montgomery Planner to come over and put some ‘fresh eyes’ on projects we have begun (i.e. downtown revitalization) and some we want to do (i.e. converting the civic center into a conference center).

Several points resulted from this meeting. First and foremost they were most impressed with the assets we have to work with. (Note: our windshield tour around town did not include a trip to the port facility or airport due to the nasty weather and they were still impressed with what we have to work with.)

Secondly, they had no idea Demopolis had a downtown district to amount to anything. This was based on the fact they both had passed through in the past on stayed on Highway 80. They also did not know we had not a river(s) close to the downtown area. Thirdly, we need to formalize our strategic plan.

In response to the second point above, we obviously need to do a better job of signage in getting the word to Highway 80 travelers so they will know where our downtown is and where our river is. Also, they strongly recommended any downtown plan should include utilization of the river and connection to the marina.

On point three, our current strategic plan is nearly ten years old, we will be updating this in the next couple of months.

I would also like for you know I am working with the City of Meridian to create a tourist event to get people to come to Demopolis and just not through Demopolis. Our goal is to use the arts as a unique economic development engine. By arts I am referring to performing arts, written arts, visual arts and culinary arts. We are having a meeting open to the public on Friday, March 1 regarding this initiative. If you are interested in attending, please call Jenn Tate at the Chamber of Commerce (289-0279) for more info.

Speaking of the Chamber, don’t forget the Chamber annual banquet is Monday, February 25. Call the number above to purchase your tickets.

Together, let’s make something great happen for our town.