Scott City begins assessing its top needs

It's a welcome opportunity for any person or agency to be asked their needs and then get a receptive ear -- particularly an ear that can translate needs into real help.

That's what happened in Scott City last week.

Former state senator Jerry Howard has been awarded a contract to catalog the needs of communities in the six Bootheel counties of Scott, Mississippi, Stoddard, New Madrid, Pemiscot and Dunklin. He conducted his presentation as part of last week's Scott City City Council meeting.

Howard's contract is through Creative Communities Inc., a Malden, Mo.-based nonprofit organization that specializes in nontraditional vocational training, job placement and job advancement services.

The group was awarded a $297,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program for the needs cataloging program so that Creative Communities can structure related training programs.

Scott City peppered Howard with its needs. The one receiving the most attention was no surprise to anyone who has sat in traffic at the Scott City exit off Interstate 55: a reconfigured exchange that would move traffic and make getting onto U.S. 61 or into the city less of a hassle -- not to mention safer.

As for timing, the city's first priority among infrastructure needs has to be bringing an abandoned sewage lagoon up to state Department of Natural Resources standards within one year, Mayor Tim Porch said. That project is expected to cost $250,000.

Other needs were: a new bridge over Ramsey Creek, drainage work and replacement of old sewers, sidewalks, a community center, a fairground, a skateboard park, a new swimming pool and more tourism.

Residents also would like to see a bridge over Ramsey Creek to connect the town with its industrial park, allowing motorists to get on and off I-55 at the Route AB/Nash Road exit. The city is looking for ways to finance that $1 million project itself.

The city would like to address the way railroad tracks along Main Street impede development.

Turning out for the meeting with Howard and sharing such needs was an excellent start.

The question now is what Creative Communities actually can do for Scott City. The process can't begin and end with discussing what's needed. There must be action, and that's most likely to come from the residents themselves.