I Remember When Lumberton Was....
Vanessa said the photo took her back to a time when elected officials cared for the citizens they represented. Here's what she shared with me. "I'm not reposting this picture because its a picture of my mother. I'm posting because this picture reminded me of a time when this town stood together. They didn't have much but they had each other. My mother lov3d the fact that she could go to her alderman, Rev. Denson Holder and later Rev. Curtis Merritt, if she had a problem or needed assistance with a matter. Back then, you could go to your alderman because you knew they cared and was concerned about the people in their ward. If you had a problem, you could go to your alderman; it wasn't about money or a POWERTRIP. They genuinely cared for their neighbors. They showed the people who voted for them that they appreciated their vote by saying "Thank you" with tneir voice and through their deeds. Unfortunately, we can't say that today. As of 1-31-2015, it's 5he worst it has ever been in Lumberton. Everybody wants to be the Chief and nobody wants to be the Indians. Nobody wants to serve. Back in the day, your aldermen was your warrior and they took a stand for Lumberton and represented their town with dignity and pride. Not only did our elected officials take a stand for Lumberton but our churches took a stand for our town as well. LIL OLE LUMBERTON, yes Lumberton. Where has our town gone? NO GUTS NO GLORY! We can't blame the people that's living in Lumberton; it's the people running the town. We need to vote for people that are best for the job. It doesn't matter if they're black or white, friend, family or foe. It doesn't matter if we've known them all our lives. All that matters is, are they thinking of Lumberton or themselves? CAN LUMBERTON BE PUT BACK TOGETHER? People we got to take a stand. Either we're going to stand for what's right or you're going to stand for something wrong. Just thinking this Saturday morning as I reminisce about this picture. "
Thank you Vanessa for sharing your thoughts and concerns with us. To answer your question, yes Lumberton can come back together. Every city faced financial hardships as businesses closed but they adapted to the changing times; something Lumberton has not done. If you go to the four way stop on Main Street, there's progress at the end of every road. Purvis, Poplarville, Wiggins and Columbia. Each of those cities have full staffed police departments. Despite having the assistance of a Sheriff Department, they kept a full police department and consistently raised taxes over the previous eight years; Lumberton has not. Now the status quo would have us belive that refraining from raising taxes attract investors. The taxes in the City of Lumberton have not been raised for eight years. Seems like it's time to rethink that archaic idea. What's keeping investors from Lumberton is a lack of adequate police protection and overpriced land and commercial building.
How many years are we going to blame the closure of Cooper Industries for Lumberton's condition? The paradigm shift took place in 2001. That was the year Ben Winston entered the political arena. Now, I can't place all the blame on Winston because he wasn't alone; much like today's political scene. During that year, several business men joined the board. We had Dorman Davis, Barry Waites, Ben Winston, Curtis Merritt and Stanley Rayborn. Many of tbe citizens thought this was the board to take us to the next level. Unfortunately, it wasn't. A lot of progress was hindered because this was the first time a black mayor, Greg Cooley, was elected. I don't know if the friction was related to racism or placism but most of tne noard, with the exception of Merritt, fought against everything this mayor attempted to accomplish.
During this administration, there were two costly decisions made. First, Winston proppsed that the city pay for health insurance for all elected officials. Prior to this motion, only the mayor received free health insurance. Of course the motioned passed. The board was filled with small business owners and they jumped at the opportunity to get free health insurance, at tax payers expense. The second costly mistake was presented by Waites. He felt the need to end the discounted flat rate water bills for senior citizens. I know there's a law about no government entity can donate services but I felt that decision had an adverse affect on the city as well as the citizens. It was at this point, that I think the root of the City of Lumberton started to die. Their decisions reminded me of the passage in Mark 11:12-25; the parable of the fig tree. By electing business men, the citizens thought they were best suited for tbe jobs. Outwardly, they had the vibrant, full leaves but once the leaves were pulled back, we realized they hadn't produced any fruit. Unfortunately, this error has been repeated over and over again. Now, we're wondering why Lumberton is in the shape it's in; it's because the root was destroyed years ago and now we're left with a lifeless stump. Better days are ahead but first we must start making better decisions.