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Street Talk

By Mickey Howley

Monday night at the Chamber of Commerce annual banquet, Northwest Community College president Michael Heindl was the featured speaker. He talked about NWCC having the biggest district of 11 counties of all the 15 community colleges in Mississippi. He had lots of data, facts and figures, but the one that struck me was the student ratio of graduation percentage. 

For the college as a whole, the start to graduation percentage is 58 percent. For people from Yalobusha County, the start to graduation percent is 69 percent. That’s a significant improvement over that average and Dr. Heindl took it to mean that Yalobushians were more motivated. 

Northwest has been in a partnership with Water Valley’s Base Camp Coding Academy, Heindl citing that Base Camp’s model and effect is the best role model in the state for developing software programmers. 

That’s a really positive statement about what is going on in our downtown, the intersection of a historic Main Street and the high-tech education. The future plans are even better, the re-use of the Rice-Stix building, once again bringing life back to the center of town.

Mayor Donald Gray talked about the city issuing 27 new building permits last year, with $1.7 million in new residential construction. Note this does not include significant renovation construction, that’s significant as well. There was a time not so long ago when the yearly permit numbers for new residential construction in the city was close to zero. That is a really positive change and an indicator of progress.

 Don Larson was awarded the Braswell Hatcher Service Award, and perhaps, gave the most heartfelt acceptance speech I’ve heard. Mercedes Sims won the Elliot Scholarship, she’s a strong, smart young woman. If you see her, please congratulate her. A lot of hard work went into earning that scholarship.

Last week I talked about statewide Farmers Market guru Purvie Green visiting the Valley. Purvie’s general concern was that via farmers markets that Mississippians could eat better. It is a rather depressing paradox that a state where literally topsoil is measured in many yards deep as compared to places where it inches, still has food deserts. Mississippi doesn’t have a fertility issue, it is one of the most productive places to grow, but what is grown is mainly not for the local market or local consumption. That’s too bad for us.

Many health issues are diet related, Purvie’s highest concern was for Type 2 Diabetes.  This disease has increased exponentially in the last decades,  tripling since 1990.  

Diet and being overweight are factors in this astounding increase. The basic fix is diet and exercise, and while that sounds simple, the resources and motivation are not always there. But shopping the Farmers Market will get you out walking about and eating healthy stuff. The Water Valley Farmer Market opens Saturday, April 20, at 9 a.m. 

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