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Mike Tagert Wins Northern District Transportation Commissioners Race

Historic Victory For Northeast Mississippi
For the first time in memory, a local has been elected Northern District Transportation Commissioner. Mike Tagert, of Starkville, was elected Tuesday in a special election to fill the final year of Bill Minor’s 4-year term. Minor passed away back in November of last year. Tagert defeated Desoto County’s John Caldwell, who had run for commissioner twice previously. Final but unofficial results showed Tagert received 21,111 votes, or 53 %, to Caldwells’ 18,737 votes, or 47 %. Tagert won in 23 of the 33 counties that make up the northern district, with Caldwells’ biggest margin of victory coming in his home county of Desoto, where he received 7,081 votes to 573 for Tagert. But it wasn’t enough to overcome Tagerts’ huge rural support from the Golden Triangle and counties along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Tagert had been serving as president of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Council, who has launched a nationwide search for a new president.
As happened during the first election on January 11th (which resulted in Tuesdays’ runoff between Tagert and Caldwell), weather played a factor in Tuesday’s runoff election. On January 11th, snowy and icy roads kept many of our northern county neighbors from voting the first go-round. Tuesday, it was severe storms and winds that kept many potential voters off the roads and out of the polls.
Tagert will serve about 11 months (the rest of this year) and will have to qualify (this time party affiliated) to run for the full four-year term beginning in January 12′. Tagert and Caldwell are both Republicans, but you don’t have to claim party affiliation during special elections. Tagert is expected to qualify soon for that election. He might face competition from State Representative Warner McBride (D- Courtland), who seemed to be the favorite in the January 11th election but came in third place, failing to make the runoff. This time, though, McBride would have to resign his House seat to run against incumbent Tagert, making the stakes much higher.
Dixie Butler Speaks At Council Meeting
Amid the Columbus Conventions & Visitors Bureau controversy during the past few months, the city and county has voted to adhere to state law and vacate the current 9 board appointees positions to reduce that number to 6 (3 each by both entities). While doing so, the city voted to abandon appointing industry-specific appointees to the CVB board and opted instead for 3 at-large positions (which would give the mayor and a couple of councilmen more control over appointees who would be friendly to doling out money to their specific projects, obviously). So by eliminating the specific board positions for at-large ones, that move eliminated the ‘historic homes’ CVB board position (though they could certainly re-appoint Dixie Butler, who had filled that appointment previously..it’s doubtful they would do so. Councilman Gene Taylor had even gone so far as to suggest that if the position on the board should be a specific one, it only specify “a homeowner”).
Butler petitioned to be added to this past Tuesday nights Columbus City Council meeting (Citizens Input Agenda) and showed up to ask the council to reconsider and be sure the ‘historic homeowners’ be represented by a designated member on the CVB board. The following is the statement she had prepared and read to the council and the attending public.
“Thank you….although I have spoken with each of you (council members) individually, I come tonight to urge you, collectively, to retain a designated seat on the Convention & Visitors Bureau board for someone representing historic tourism. Although those of us who open our historic homes to the public are a relatively small group, the resulting economic impact for Columbus is very large. Historic homes are available for tours not only during designated times in the spring and fall, but on a daily basis all year long. Visitors came from all over the country and the world to come inside our homes. We know that historic homes visitors that we attract stay longer and spend more money than other visitors. And people don’t come to Columbus from out of town to buy a t-shirt, although they may buy one while they are here, they come to tour historic houses. I’m sure that there are places all over the country that would be thrilled to have our rich architectural heritage and the opportunity to have some of their houses available for tours. But it’s not just the economic benefit that is important – look at the educational value. A university architecture class from another state, a history class, a group of museum curators, a sixth grade class from Hunt on a history tour, a group of first graders from Sale…our historic homes often serve as learning laboratories for a variety of groups – some local – and some from out of town. Columbus benefits because we make our homes available on many occasions..a lunch reception for the Henry Armstrong event..a luncheon to celebrate Walt Disney animator Josh Meador, The Department of Archives & History Board of Directors or prospective industrial visitors, and the Appalachian Regional Council. We are part of the community that proudly works closely with CAFB by providing venues for them, whether it is a breakfast for BRAC officials or a reception for visiting Air Force generals or other military dignitaries. You all have attended the events that i’ve described – we are truly ambassadors for Columbus!
And please understand that we do not operate at the profit level – for the most part what we do gives us satisfaction in fulfilling a civic responsibility – promoting historic preservation and in getting to meet a lot of nice people.
Historically this group has recognized the important economic and educational benefit of our historic homes by being sure that – as promised – one seat on the CVB board has been designated as such. I’m not here tonight to talk about Dixie Butler being on the board..I am urging you, however, to keep my position (historic homeowners) on the board. Whether in my role as an educator, or since 1970 in sharing my home with the public, I have always felt that in both of these endeavors I was doing something that ultimately make things better for the boys and girls in Columbus. And so I urge you tonight to look to the future, not just the present, and make the commitment that assures historic tourism continues and that Columbus remains one of the  dozen distinctive destinations in the country. I am confident that you will continue to work with each other and with the board of supervisors to resolve the CVB board controversy in a timely manner and in a way that would be best for Columbus – and I would say that to the board of supervisors as well”.
Mrs Butler went on to tell a favotite poem her father used to tell about ‘stubborn ounces’ and then thanked the council for listening. She made some very good points in her statement – some I hope the mayor and council actually listened too.
Ron Cooke Qualifies To Run For Justice Court Judge
Ron Cooke qualified Tuesday to run for Justice Court Judge District 2, a position he held nearly 8 years ago before resigning to make an unsuccessful run for sheriff in 2003. Cooke will face challenger Wyatt Mills in the Republican primary in August. The two candidates are the only two to sign up for the position so far. Current Judge Mike Arledge will soon resign to make a run for sheriff. District 1 Judge Chris Hemphill and District 3 Judge Peggy Phillips remain unopposed at press time.
Speaking of Mills..I failed to mention that he was at the 12 Man Supper Club a couple of Thursday nights ago. Mills is a retired Mississippi Highway Patrolman and also worked for the Department of Correction. Also at the supper that night was longtime District 2 Constable Joe Ables. Ables has said that he only wants “one more term” in office. He is also unopposed.

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