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Changing for the future, or the past?

Published 12:01am Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The more things change in the Miss-Lou, the more they stay the same.

It’s been decades, if it has ever occurred, since so many major leadership roles turned over in the same year.

By the time 2012 ends, the Miss-Lou is on track to have welcomed new leadership in 16 major roles. The positions undergoing change are:

-Three seats on the Adams County Board of Supervisors

-Natchez mayor

-One seat on the Natchez Board of Alderman

-Natchez Police Chief

-Natchez-Adams School District Superintendent

-Trinity Episcopal Day School headmaster

-Adams County Christian School headmaster

-Natchez Community Hospital CEO

-Riverland Medical Center CEO

-Concordia Parish Sheriff

-Concordia Parish School Board Superintendent

-Ferriday mayor

-One seat on the Ferriday Board of Aldermen

-Ferriday Police Chief

In addition, a number of the people stepping into those roles are likely to appoint new department heads and middle management under them, so it’s almost like our entire community is undergoing a facelift.

In law enforcement and education, that’s certainly true.

Vidalia Police Chief Arthur Lewis and Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield have only been in their current roles a short time, meaning that in less than five years, every law enforcement chief in the area has been replaced for one reason or another.

By the end of this year, only Cathedral School will have an administrator with more than six months of experience in his current role. School administrators at the Natchez public schools, ACCS and Trinity — and the leading candidate for the parish job — have never been the top man in charge before.

But inexperience isn’t a word that can be applied to several other newbies.

Butch Brown and Gene Allen, who will lead the City of Natchez and Town of Ferriday, respectively, have certainly been around the block.

Neither man is likely, in my opinion, to come up with new ways of doing things. Instead, they’ll harken back to the way things were before.

Voters in Natchez and Ferriday wanted change, but familiar change.

In many ways, the desire for a change from the way things have been going — and a longing for the way things used to be — is behind almost everyone of the 16 leadership changes.

It’s clear that few in Natchez, Adams County or Ferriday — we’ll leave Vidalia out of this for the time being — were happy with the way things have been going lately.

From a decreasing population to poor management of public property and even bad water, citizens across the Miss-Lou have had plenty to complain about.

When the masses complain, change comes.

But in an area with as much history as the Miss-Lou, it seems impossible to start from scratch and move in an entirely new direction. All we know is how it once was, and everyone tends to remember the past more favorably than the present. A few key positions will return to the past next week, and we’ll all see whether what we remember is as good as we hope.

Brand new leaders will have a short window to prove themselves and excel before cries for change begin.

And though it may be a long time before this many positions turnover at the same time again, the familiarity of change will certainly come again.

 

Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.