Thursday, May 24, 2012
Letters To The Editor
When given the choice, take the dirt road.
To leave the farm I travel down a long driveway, over the levee, and through the prairie grass. Outside the farm gate I have the option to turn left and travel a maintained state road or turn right and meander the partially paved county road. On this day I turn right.
The only traffic is a scrappy dog, a survivor of drive-by abandonment, barking as the truck passes his home in the open field of sagebrush and little blue stem grasses. A couple of sharp curves and the steep banks of the road reveal the beauty of Marshall County’s highest point and Mississippi’s Hill Country. Past a field of red buckeye and a startled coyote, the sound of driving on pavement stops abruptly. The hum of deep treads on asphalt is replaced by “shush” as the tires negotiate the red clay and gravel mix.
You can’t safely drive a dirt road fast and that’s truly a gift. The slower pace forces you to see the native sunflower path that has spread where rainwater drains through the valley and into the creek. There’s time to enjoy the canopy of oaks forming a tunnel of green and watch the wild turkey lumber into the branches of a nearby sycamore. Summer fields now lavender and green with smartweed and smilax will be covered with hungry, migrating water birds in the winter. On the final turn, hills dotted with lonely chimneys and an old cedar-lined road signal that civilization and a busy highway is nearby and the motoring meditation will end.
The rumor that this remaining portion of unpaved road may disappear saddens me. If this is so, it will be covered with an impermeable surface that will be easier to drive and easier to erode a fragile ecosystem with the runoff of just a few heavy rainstorms. I make a quick wish that future landowners who build homes along this road will remove only the trees needed for the footprint of their houses and fit into the native landscape they found beautiful enough to consider home. And, as I turn onto the highway into town, I pray future residents plan for the quality of land and water they leave for their children, just as they plan the homes and keepsakes they will inherit.
Marshall County is still rich in habitat. We are wealthy in water resources western states and larger metropolitan areas pay dearly to import. We can continue to enjoy our native wealth and natural assets with thoughtful planning and management. We can seek education for our children and ourselves in conservation, elect officials who protect these assets, and take simple steps like recycling.
We can regularly spend time outside in the natural world, remembering that our choices have an impact on where we live and the species that share our communities. While we travel through days filled with news of volatile markets and diminishing resources, let’s consider the returns on investing in simple, sustainable living. And, if you need inspiration, just take the dirt road.
– Suzanne Langley
P.S.: Farewell and thank you to the wonderful people of Hudsonville and my friends and colleagues in North Mississippi. The past five years have been a life-changing education in what matters.
Thank you to The South Reporter for the work you do to keep us informed and the important role you play in community development.
Editor’s Note – Suzanne Langley is leaving soon to become the first executive director for the Birmingham Audubon Society.
From proms to graduations, teens have plenty of reasons to celebrate this time of year. But no matter what the reason for celebrating, help keep the occasion safe for everyone by making sure alcohol isn’t part of your teen’s party plans.
Parents play an important role in helping teens make smart decisions when it comes to alcohol. According to the 2012 GfK Roper Youth Report, the majority of youth – 73 percent of 13-to 17-year-olds – say parents are the No. 1 influence on decisions about whether they drink alcohol or not.
At, A&B Distributing, we’re parents, too, and we share the same concerns as every other parent about these issues. That’s why we encourage parents to download a free copy of the Family Talk About Drinking parent guide at www.Facebook.com/ABFamilyTalk. The Family Talk About Drinking program aims to prevent underage drinking by encouraging parents to start meaningful, ongoing conversations about alcohol with their children. The program, which is applicable to parents with children of any age, is housed within a Facebook community where our certified parent coach, M.J. Corcoran, serves as an additional parent resource.
In addition to our Family Talk About Drinking program, Anheuser-Busch and A&B Distributing Company remind adults that supplying alcohol at teen parties is never a good idea. To help prevent alcohol sales to minors, we also provide retailers with ID-checking materials and training to help them serve and sell alcohol responsibly.
Thanks to law enforcement and these kinds of community-based programs, we’re making progress in reducing underage drinking. According to the 2011 Monitoring the Future Study, the 8th grade past-month drinking rate is at a record-low level, declining 49 percent since tracking began in 1991, and high school senior drinking is down 41 percent since 1975.
We can all do our part this prom and graduation season. These are our families and our kids and it’s our responsibility to help keep them safe.
It was a great year
This has been a struggling year for the H.W. Byers junior high cheerleading/pom pom squad, from the coach being injured and having surgery to the squad decreasing in size.
However, I must say that this has been a great year.
I would like to send out special thanks – first, to principal Sonya Cross for having faith in me to give me the opportunity to coach my first squad; second, to Tavashia Hale for instructing the girls on dance moves.
Third, thanks to Samantha Holland Spencer for stepping in when I could not be there due to illness. Next, thanks to my parents for being understanding and patient with a first year coach and for supporting your child. Last but not least, thanks to the 2011-2012 H.W. Byers junior high cheerleader squad, thank you for all your hard work and dedication to the team. I love you guys and look forward to the next year.
I would also like to thank Jekulve Hale for taking such wonderful group and individual pictures. They all turned out beautifully.
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