Dr. Tim Alford gave an impassioned presentation at the Monday meeting of the Attala County Board of Supervisors.
Alford, speaking on behalf of the Kosciusko Foundation for the Excellence in Education, requested that the county make a donation toward the renovations of the Skipworth Performing Arts Center.
“I’ve been at this for about three years; this is my third visit back,” Alford said.
He gave the supervisors each a list of some of the donors who have already contributed to the project.
“I’m being a little bit harder this time, but this group right here that could contribute so much, y’all are the only public entity that is not on that list,” he said. “I know y’all are busy ... but I really think that y’all should be on this list significantly.”
The list includes the city of Kosciusko, which has committed to donating $75,000, and the state, which has contributed $500,000 — funds secured by state Rep. Jason White. Many private donors have also contributed to the renovations at the Skipworth, and the KFEE has raised almost $2 million for the project. After the meeting Alford said the building was “all but condemned three years ago” before the renovation project to restore the center began.
Speaking to the supervisors, Alford said, “There are people in this county who vote who contributed to that because they are passionate about it.”
At the beginning of his presentation, Alford said that as an emergency room doctor, “Inevitably I see somebody, some young soul, that is either addicted or affected by methamphetamine. We have an epidemic in this county of drugs, and it’s affecting our youth.”
He said early prevention is vital to combat drug use among youth.
“Children need an enriching community to grow up in,” he said. “We’ve got good athletic facilities, and all my kids were athletes, and it contributes to life lessons and helps them grow up right, but there is more to education and brain development than just athletics. Most every professional, in one way or another, who has come back to this community has done something in the arts. … That’s an important thing, especially a young child to be exposed to music, theater.”
Then, Alford gave each supervisor what he called “gifts,” which were cricket tubes used for fishing.
He said he gave them to the supervisors for two reasons — No. 1, “Children need mentors, and they need influence, and they need guidance,” and No. 2, “That’s what I’ve heard for the past three years out of this board is crickets.”
The tubes, only symbolically used, did not contain actual crickets.
Alford offered to give the board a tour of the auditorium to see the renovations and what still needs work.
“These past two weeks, new seats have gone in,” he said. “Right now, we’ve got the equivalent of Carnegie Hall attached to an outhouse; the bathrooms were built in 1960, and we can do better than that in this community. Now I know y’all are county, but that is going to be the community performing arts center, and every kid in this county will benefit.”
Alford closed by saying, “I wish y’all could follow me around on a shift at the emergency room, because when one of those kids comes in, it’s a helpless feeling for me. We’ve got to do something to prevent it. And that, right up there on that hill, is the best thing we’ve got besides our good athletic program.”
District 5 Supervisor Tim Pinkard responded.
“I want to tell you on behalf of this board, we appreciate what you do for the community,” he said. “I can tell you personally when I come to that emergency room, which I don’t want to go to but if I have to, I want to see your face. And I appreciate what you do for the community.”
Pinkard said the county is currently budgeted and has many expenses to consider before responding to Alford’s request.
“I can tell you are compassionate and your heart’s in it,” said Pinkard. “And with these donors, I can tell other people’s hearts are in it, but let us look at our budget; we’re starting on it this week.”
During the meeting, the board also approved road number designations for Sky Ranch Road, Attala Road 2976; and Brentwood Road, Attala Road 2983. The private roads are being numbered in order for someone to be easily located in an emergency after a call is made to 911. The board also approved a motion to participate in a beaver control assistance program.