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Vicksburg’s leaders are pushing forward

When I left on vacation last week, I was pretty much successful in secluding myself from the newspaper business outside of reading The Advocate to catch up on things with LSU and in Baton Rouge.

I never thought I would leave the city where I grew up with an idea for a column, but a decision to take an alternative route to U.S. 61 planted the seed.

The route my wife and I took went through two adjacent small towns, Baker and Zachary, and in a way I saw a tale of two cities.

We lived for 10 years in Baker, where I was the editor of the local weekly. Both cities at the time had populations between 8,000 and 12,000 people and were bordered by two major roads, Louisiana 19 on the west, and Plank Road on the east. Baker was an interesting place; it was also a place where the majority of the residents were more than happy to keep the status quo rather than move forward, and some of those residents tended to look down on the people in Zachary, which was not even 5 miles to the north.

Zachary was a different story. The people and the city’s administration were progressive and trying to find ways to grow.

The city’s council in the 1970s expanded the city limits along Louisiana 19 right up to the Baker city limits. It also annexed land on Plank Road, and what was looked on and laughed at by many in Baker (and probably in Zachary) is, more than 40 years later, on the brink of paying dividends.

Baker has grown, and like many cities, changed since we were last there. But it had grown only from the standpoint of newer, bigger buildings replacing the older structures. There was even a hotel. There were also a lot of empty, vacant buildings from what I could see, and not much in the way of actual new, as in underway, construction. And there was not much activity; that is people moving about on the roads or in the shopping areas.

Zachary has, in its own way grown but it is also expanding. The streets and businesses were active with people going in restaurants and stores and moving from one place to another.

The road out of town was lined with new residential and business areas.

I thought of Vicksburg as I traveled through Baker and Zachary, and how the city’s leaders are trying to make it more progressive. We can’t stay status quo, folks, and I’m glad to see the Board of Mayor and Aldermen trying to move the city forward.

My visit through my former stomping grounds was educational. It showed what a city can do when the leadership decides to be progressive and take advantage of opportunities to prepare for the future. Vicksburg has, because of its size, more to offer than Baker or Zachary, and it’s good to know our leaders and pushing forward.

John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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