Quite often in today's society we hear and read the negatives associated with our community, however I would like to take this opportunity to tell you and the citizens of Sikeston of a real community success story.
This past Saturday (Jan. 22), I had the pleasure and honor of attending a pizza party for the young men and women who maintained the 40 plus vacant lots and properties owned by the Land Clearance and Redevelopment Authority (LCRA). Starting in April of last year and continuing through October, the Business Research Institute (BRI) had contracted with the LCRA to employ between 20 and 25 young men and women ages 13-17 to maintain the LCRA's properties.
BRI purchased lawn mowers, rakes, gloves, goggles and weed eaters so they would have the necessary equipment to complete the task. Beginning in April, these young people spent every Saturday mowing, raking and weed eating the LCRA properties, beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing until their assigned lots were completed. Mike, as you can well imagine, after years of neglect these properties were full of limbs and all other sorts of trash. It took the removal of many trailer loads of this trash just to be able to mow these lots.
Soon after the beginning of this program the LCRA began hearing compliments regarding these properties. Neighbors began taking better care of their properties and a sense of pride developed in these neighborhoods. A request was made of the city to provide fill dirt in order to even these lots and fill the sinkholes. The young men and women maintaining these lots did the work at no additional cost. The pride these young people took in their jobs was evident, as they would clean the trash off the lots regardless if it was during the time they were getting paid. I do not recall ever receiving a complaint as to the quality of work these young people performed. They went the extra mile.
After returning home and reflecting on my time spent with these polite, well-mannered young people, a though occurred to me. In a speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King in August 1963 titled, "I Have a Dream," he stated he had a dream where someday his children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character. These young people are making that dream a reality. The parents and citizens of Sikeston can take great pride in these young men and women and the job they performed.
Mike, as the Standard Democrat recently reported the LCRA recently received its first installment of the tax issue that was approved by the voters. For the past 18 months the LCRA has been funded by contributions from other city government entities.
We would like to thank the Board of Municipal Utilities for their contribution of start-up monies. We would also like to thank the Sikeston Housing Authority and its board for their contribution of $100,000. Without their help and support, the above would not have been possible, nor would the acquisition and demolition of properties.
By continuing to work together, Sikeston and its citizens will reap rewards for many years to come.
Michael L. Bohannon