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OPINION: Brookhaven has a lot to offer residents, business

I welcome the opportunity to share some of the positive things that are taking place in my hometown of Brookhaven, a Homeseeker’s Paradise. I’ve served as mayor of Brookhaven for the past five years, so I write from that perspective.

Brookhaven, which recently celebrated its 150th birthday, is a thriving city of 13,500 located on Interstate 55 and U.S. Highway 84, which is two-hour drive from the Gulf Coast and two hours north of New Orleans.

The schools of Brookhaven and Lincoln County provide a quality education to the young people in our area. The Chamber of Commerce’s Education Committee provides leadership in the Mississippi Scholars program. This year, 210 seniors will be awarded over $124,000 in scholarships.

The Mississippi School of the Arts is a vital part of our community. This school is for extremely gifted high school juniors and seniors from all areas of the state to aid in developing their talents. Many of these students receive scholarships upon graduating, and many of them will make our state proud in years to come. In 2008, students at the school were offered $2.2 million in scholarships. Jasmine Murray, who recently competed on “American Idol,” is one such student.

The city and county boards worked well together along side the Industrial Development Foundation to purchase and develop a 400-acre business park on I-55. Bonds were issued by the city and county not only for the purchase of the land, but also for the park’s infrastructure. A one-million gallon elevated water tank, water well, roads and water and sewer lines have been completed and the park is ready for occupancy.

During the past few years, local business and professional leaders have worked with our city board to make revitalization of the downtown a top priority. New decorative lighting and attractive street signs have been installed downtown. “Welcome to Brookhaven” signs greet visitors as they exit I-55 and as they enter downtown Brookhaven. Soon Exit 40 on I-55 will see the installation of high mast lights, which will not only make this entrance more attractive, but safer, as well.

A new Senior Citizens’ Center, named after Jimmy Furlow, a long-time city employee killed in a tragic accident, is under construction. This facility will provide seniors an excellent place to meet and visit, to learn computer skills, to play bridge and to benefit from courses offered by Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

New spray parks have been installed at two of the city’s parks, as has a well-lit walking trail at City Park. State-of-the-art playground equipment has recently been installed at two other parks.

Other exciting projects in various stages of completion are the construction of a multi-modal building, the development of the final stages of the city’s Comprehensive Plan, erosion control at several major drainage ditches, the building of a new police station and the addition of several new airport hangars.

The City of Brookhaven is host to several special events throughout the year such as the family-oriented Ole Brook Festival in September, the Tour of Homes in December and the Master Gardeners Spring Extravaganza in April. The city also hosts the exciting Mississippi Grand Prix Bicycle Race in April, which draws entrants from throughout the South. Our hope is that you’ll take advantage of these events to see for yourself that Brookhaven truly is a “Homeseeker’s Paradise.”

Bob Massengill, Mayor of Brookhaven, contributed this Op-Ed column for the Mississippi Business Journal. For a public official or newsmaker to contribute an Op-Ed column, contact MBJ managing editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com.

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