Photo by Sue Watson
Judge Ernest Cunningham administers the oath of office to Holly Springs Mayor Kelvin Buck.

Photos by Sue Watson
Taking the oath of office, administered by judge Ernest Cunningham (far left), are Holly Springs aldermen (from left) Tim Liddy, Mark Miller, Lennell Lucas, Christy Owens and Bernita Fountain-Lowe.

City elected officials and some of the guests are pictured during the prayer service at Christ Church.

Inauguration stresses positivity

A large crowd, including family members, supporters from the community and city employees, was on hand for the swearing-in ceremonies of Holly Springs elected officials at the Eddie Lee Smith Multi-Purpose Building. The officials will serve a four-year term, through June 2021.

The proceedings were to take place on South Memphis Street in front of city hall but moved indoors due to rain.

Pastor Andrew Cheairs, of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, said the first prayer, leaning on John 10:10 which contained the words of Jesus: “The thief cometh not but for to steal and to kill and to destroy. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Justice court judge Ernest Cunningham presided over the swearing-in of the mayor and aldermen.

“Four years ago you did this swearing-in ceremony and you were an inexperienced mayor,” he said, in jest. “Now you are experienced. If all goes well, people will praise you, but when the lights go off and the potholes do not get filled, people will criticize you.”

Alderman-at-large Tim Liddy celebrated the city for its leadership, which he said is not based on physical appearances or riches.

He said the mayor leads the city while the board of aldermen helps guide the community through mapping out a plan.

“Everyone here is a leader,” Liddy said. “We all need to lead by example. The City of Holly Springs needs to lead in the county, the county needs to lead in the state and the state needs to lead in the nation. I challenge the mayor and aldermen not to just be elected officials, but leaders of our city.”

Mayor Kelvin Buck, re-elected to a second term, recognized members of his family, city employees, the community’s pastors, and his campaign committee and supporters who worked hard for his re-election.

He expressed a vision that the city be a shining example and a great place to live.

His campaign theme - running a positive campaign - will also be the guiding principles of his administration, Buck said.

“I still believe in that positive spirit, as we ran our campaign, to run the city,” Buck said. “I feel honored to have this board … to move this city forward…the respect we have for each other, and that we do what we feel is in the best interest of the city.”

He challenged leaders and city employees to seek what they can do to help the city move forward, rather than seek what the city can do for them.

“See your role as more than a job,” he said.

He encouraged churches and clergy to help the less fortunate and for all to pray for the city, “to meet the challenges as a united community.”

Buck reviewed some accomplishments of the past four-year term – pulling the city out of debt, improving infrastructure (streets, water, sewer), and seeing an increase in sales tax revenues and property values.

“Now begins the next phase of growth and development,” he said. “Our city wants more than just better paying jobs, but more positive activities for our youth.”

Buck called upon the business community to continue partnering with the city in education and other developments, saying they all have a role to play.

The city can call upon its history and culture to make the most of its resources.

“All of us working together will make this a great community,” he said. “No city can do more. I challenge you to be a part of working together. It will take all of us making a difference.

“My hope four years from now is that we can say Holly Springs has moved to the next level. Everybody is important in this process.”

Rhonda Wilson sang the National Anthem and the closing solo, “To God Be the Glory.”

The Right Reverend Bruce McMillan of Christ Episcopal Church, in the closing prayer, asked God’s help “to make our city good, not just great.”

He continued to pray that leaders do the right thing, that they accept the grace of repentance, and that God helps the community to bring its solutions and ideas and gifts of creativity, “because they (leaders) have a great responsibility to make our city good.”

Prayer service at Christ Church

An inaugural prayer service was held at Christ Episcopal Church and was led by the ministers.

McMillan praised the mayor and board of aldermen for the last four year’s effort.

“I’ve been here 22 years and I think this is the most able team elected since I’ve been here. It’s incredible,” he said.

Pastor Gary Adams, of BridgeWay Baptist Church, gave thanks for the Declaration of Independence that states that all men are created equal.

He asked that “blessings be poured out on this mayor to lean not on his own understanding but to rely on God.”

He prayed for unity in the city and in the administration and that God give the mayor calmness, courage, humility, and “the wisdom to know what is right, that Your strong arm sustain him as he leads.”

Pastor R.J. Wilson read from Psalms 1:1 - “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord: and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of waters, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

Rev. Zachary Beasley, pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church, preached on true unity, taken from a reading of Genesis 11:1-7. The story deals with the Tower of Babel where the people became comfortable and wanted to put down roots.

“They wanted to build a tower to heaven, but God said, no,” he said. “You have to spread out. It was not what God wanted even though it was good. When God moved, things changed.”

Unity gets God’s attention, he said. He said unity will enhance the city and meet the needs of the people.

“When the community comes together, God will move in our midst,” Beasley said.

The last remarks were left to those who chose to say something.

Lennell Lucas, the new kid on the block taking over as alderman of Ward 2, expressed his appreciation to the voters  in his ward and the entire community.

“I am grateful, honored, and privileged to serve you,” he said.

Alderman Christy Owens echoed others’ remarks about unity.

“It’s something we’ve all been talking about for years,” she said.

She expressed appreciation to her mother, saying “She’s been a true spiritual mentor for me all my life.”

Liddy recognized his family and friends and alderman Bernita Fountain-Lowe, who was by his side at a state convention when aldermen from other municipalities praised Holly Springs for having a unified and diversified board of aldermen.

“People outside our community recognize some of the good things happening in Holly Springs,” he said.

Lowe said Holly Springs can use that racial diversity to break down barriers.

“The great thing is that we can give back and do great things for Holly Springs and we can grow together,” she said.

Alderman Mark Miller emphasized the town’s employees.

“We can’t do anything without the people who work for us,” he said. They make us look good and I’m thankful.”

“It’s been a long time coming,” Buck said. “So many people play a significant role. We intend to continue what we’ve started. We have so much to continue to do. I’m looking forward to each person helping us meet our own challenges.”

Holly Springs South Reporter

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Holly Springs, MS 38635
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