What are the things for which we can be thankful?

Published 12:01 am Sunday, November 20, 2016

With just a few days left before Thanksgiving, now is always a good time to stop and think about the many things for which I am thankful this holiday season.

First of all, I must thank God for our very existence. Without Him, we are nothing.

Those of us who are in good health can also be thankful for that blessing as well. But what things can we, as a community, agree upon being thankful?

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First, I am thankful for the great people who live in our community.

Natchez area residents from all walks of life are as unique as the place itself.

Although thankfully I’ve never had to test it, I’m fairly certain that if my car broke down on the side of the road several motorists would stop. That’s the kind of people who live here — ones who would stop to offer a hand when they see a person in need.

The same kinds of people populate our area’s police, sheriff and fire departments.

We are blessed to have such strong, capable emergency responders.

I’ve often joked with people who are unfamiliar with Natchez and ask me about local crime.

“For the most part, if you get shot here, you’ve probably stolen someone’s money, drugs or girlfriend,” meaning that most crimes are not random acts, but heats of passion or jealousy based.

Sometimes appreciating the things for which we are most appreciative comes from seeing how others manage.

I’ve always been thankful for our area’s slower speed of life. I spoke with someone recently who lives in New York City. She relayed that her daily commute was two hours — each way.

And I get frustrated and in a hurry with my 10-minute commute between my house and the office.

The slower-pace of life also results in side benefits as well.

Natchez rarely ever experiences significant traffic problems.

The closest things we get to traffic are when something blocks the flow of cars on the Mississippi River bridge or the drop-off and pick-up lines at area schools.

I’m also thankful for the natural beauty in our area. Few places in Mississippi, let alone the rest of the country are as blessed as we are.

Natures’ wonders are all around us. Walk the Natchez Trails project to get a very close view of the area’s best assets, the Mississippi River.

The thundering river cuts through the heart of the community, but it remains very much at the center of much of what we do here.

The river has defined Natchez for 300 years, and I expect it will continue to do so for many, many years to come.

Unfortunately as swiftly as the river moves, our community sometimes moves at a snail’s pace by comparison.

One would think we could take a clue from the river and move things along in the community quickly.

Recreation, for example, has crawled along over the last few years.

Despite an overwhelming support for the city and county to work on the program given the landslide support for a non-binding recreation referendum from a few years ago, only small steps have been made.

The city and county have agreed to work together on constructing a pool and a few multipurpose fields.

Construction has begun on the fields and is due to start soon on the pool, but the remainder of the initial project’s plans — building a comprehensive recreation plan — remain elusive.

Unfortunately, their agreement to work together — which received approximately three-quarters of the vote on the referendum — appears to be on slightly shaky ground, given the shifts in players at the city and county level since the initial vote.

The school board has floated the idea of building a new school  — instead of a recreation complex — on the site affectionately known as the bean field. While the site is certainly convenient if you’re trying to build a school complex with little disruption, to build a school on the bean field would be a complete waste of an excellent site.

The school can be built practically anywhere — adjacent to the former Thompson School or perhaps next to the existing Frazier Elementary or Robert Lewis Middle schools.

High schools do not need to use such highly visible real estate. They can be slightly off the beaten path and still be exceptional.

Hopefully the school district will rethink their leaning and realize the better use of the bean field site is to keep it the site of a new, community recreation complex.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.