Indianola Mayor Ken Featherstone laid out an ambitious long-term plan for the city on Tuesday night.
During his first public address on the steps of the Sunflower County Courthouse, Featherstone threw his weight behind construction of a new fire station, the B.B. King Museum and its surrounding entertainment district, local businesses and more.
We’ll see over the next four years what can be accomplished by the new mayor and his board of aldermen.
We’re all rooting for them as the group prepares for their first meeting of 2022 next Monday night.
In the meantime, here are New Term Resolutions that the new city government should consider in order to get off on the right foot and stay focused for the next four years.
1. Bring decorum back to the city board meetings. The last four years have been so disappointing. Any good that might have been done by the last board was overshadowed by the frequent name-calling and shouting between the board and then Mayor Steve Rosenthal. It was never one person’s fault. The new board, well, it’s the same as the last one. The new mayor cannot control what comes out of the mouths of the other five men seated with him every other Monday night, but he’s the leader of that body. I hope he can lead them to more dignified discussions.
2. Bring real change to the police department. Featherstone told us during his address on Tuesday that the process is already underway to find a new chief. The city needs a chief, but they also need someone who has innovative ideas about policing neighborhoods, while cracking down on vehicular mischief on U.S. 82 at night. A big part of that will be staffing. That’s finding the right police officers and finding enough police officers. The board will have a big say in how much staffing will be allowed at IPD. Let’s hope they find a way to loosen the purse strings in order to attract the best and the brightest.
3. Make a plan for infrastructure, and stick to the plan. Indianola has long needed a plan for streets, water and sewer. Set small, accomplishable goals and work toward bigger ones. Figure out how to fight the daily fires that come with the Public Works department while also accomplishing large-scale projects. If we keep putting the big fixes off until we get caught up on the daily stuff, we’ll never get out of the pothole we’re in.
4. Clean up the bayou. The notion that the alligator weed, or whatever it is, cannot be cleared from the bayou without spraying deadly and toxic chemicals into the water is absurd. Other municipalities keep their waterways clear of this green mess. The solution is out there. Get it done.
5. Get behind the school district. The citizens of Sunflower County approved a $31 million bond issue in September. Some of that money will be used to fund a transformative rehabilitation for Gentry High School. The city, which is losing population annually, needs to collaborate more with the district ( and the district as well with the city) to find ways to better the schools and also to attract more families to the city’s schools, which had shown marked improvement prior to COVID-19.
Featherstone talked at length on Tuesday about providing more opportunities for youth activities.
That cannot be accomplished without collaboration with the school district.
Last week, I wished everyone a Happy New Year!
This week, I wish Indianola a Happy New Term!