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Jan. 10, 2001

By Staff
Meridian mayor's response to Marion mayor's letter
To the Editor:
I am reluctant to negotiate through the news media but must respond to Marion Mayor Malcolm Threatt's letter that insinuated the City of Meridian was unfair regarding sewer service to Marion.
Let me put the issue in perspective. After NAS Meridian was spared base closure in 1995, we sought ways to strengthen the base's military value. The Navy strongly supported Meridian providing sewer service to the base, which would save the Navy $11 million.
In 1996, when our sewer contract with Marion expired, we said we would treat its sewage at $1.31 per thousand gallons, which is what it cost us at that time. Marion refused and Mayor Threatt begged us to leave the issue alone until after town elections. With the NAS project our primary goal, I decided to take no action concerning Marion until we could get the route to the base finalized.
We worked for over a year to get a route that would not be opposed by some Lauderdale County residents. With these delays, the Mississippi Development Authority providing the majority of the money set a deadline of Dec. 31, 2000 or we would lose $4.8 million in funding.
Marion refused to give us the right of way unless we agreed to the old sewer rate, even though the Attorney General ruled we cannot charge less than what it costs us to treat the sewage, which today is $2.43. With one gun to the head from the state and another from Marion, we chose another route to save our funding and the NAS project.
Meridian supports NAS, and we have been fair to Marion, with the city council voting only to charge Marion what Meridian residents pay  not the double rate we can charge users outside the city. We remain committed to NAS Meridian and the future of our entire region. I am disappointed that Marion did not choose to make the same commitment.
John Robert Smith
Mayor, City of Meridian
Commends inmate work program
To the Editor:
I would like to commend the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office on the Inmate Work Program. I think this a wonderful program for the inmates. I am glad to see my tax dollars being used on something besides allowing them to play basketball and watch TV all day.
I have to work if I am able to eat and do things, so it should not be any different for them. They have
committed crimes and, at one time, they were treated better than the taxpayers. It is good to know that they are having to give back to a community that they have wronged.
The Sheriff's Department has had a great idea putting this into practice and I think they need to hear feedback from the community.
Angela Benson
Collinsville
Let's vote on the flag issue
To the Editor:
Mississippi is on the verge of tearing itself apart over the flag issue. The truly sad thing is it can be should be avoided.
Mississippi is in desperate need of leadership, but the politicians are running around like neglectful parents. If the South Carolina Legislature can find a compromise to their flag issue, why can't the Mississippi Legislature do the same?
A direct vote will not put an end to the issue. The racial divisions and feelings of resentment that have long festered over the issue will remain. In fact, they could grow stronger.
Compromise is the only viable solution. The answer to the problem is obvious to anyone willing to look the Magnolia Flag of 1861.
On January 9, 1861, Mississippi voted to seceded from the Union and became the Independent Republic of Mississippi. On January 26, the republic adopted a flag with the Bonnie Blue flag in its canton, a magnolia tree on a white background, and a red sash on the fly end. Mississippi didn't join the Confederacy until March 27, 1861.
The Magnolia Flag flew proudly over Mississippi from 1861 to 1894. In 1875, the conservative Democrats regained control of the state and initiated a period called "Redemption." It was during this period in Mississippi history that African-Americans were excluded from politics, economic enterprise, and social justice.
In 1894, a committee was formed to redesign the Mississippi flag. They adopted a design incorporating the Confederate Battle Flag in the canton. Our state is about to tear itself apart over that very flag.
The solution the flag issue is a compromise where all sides can claim a moral victory. First, reinstate the Magnolia Flag as the official flag of Mississippi. The flag of 1894 should then be designated a state historical banner and proudly flown over Mississippi historical sites.
It's a win n win situation for everybody!
As a life-long citizen of Mississippi, I implore the Legislature to reach a compromise. Let the Magnolia Flag fly over Mississippi once again as a unifying symbol of her people!
Richard K. McNeer
Oxford
Visitors encouraged at Meridian's growth
To the Editor:
We were in Meridian for Christmas. It is so encouraging to see growth. The Opera House, the Arts Center and the renovation going on downtown are wonderful.
My family looks forward to coming back again soon and getting to do some of these things in our hometown.
Thanks, Meridian!
Becky Parmer
Sugar Land, Tex.

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