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Our support of local businesses should remain after pandemic ends

Just a few thoughts as I sit at the computer to pound out my column.

After the ravages of COVID-19 on the city’s businesses early in the year, Vicksburg’s sales tax collections came within just a little over $3,000 of the projected fiscal 2020 tax revenues. Budget projections at the start of the 2020 fiscal year put the city receiving $7,800,000 in sales tax revenue. The final total sales tax collection was $7,796,883, or $3,117 less than projected. A big reason is collections for four of the final five months of the year exceeded collections for the same period in fiscal 2019.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. attributed the accomplishment to one thing — people shopping locally. He’s right.

The fear of the pandemic influenced people to stay home and shop rather than go to Jackson, or Clinton, or Monroe, or possibly even Baton Rouge, and it made a difference. I wonder if, once the fear of COVID-19 is passed, these same folks will continue the habit they developed and continue shopping local.

Most of the almost 42 years I’ve been in this business have been spent living and working in small towns and I have always made it a point to shop local first. If I couldn’t find what I needed or wanted, then I went somewhere else. But I always knew if I looked hard enough or asked an employee at a local store I’ve found what I needed.

When I’m looking for something, whether it’s for me or my wife or daughter, I hit the local stores first. If I can’t find what I’m looking for, then I go someplace else. That has been rare.

Our local merchants are our friends and neighbors, as are the employees of the chain stores operating here. They deserve our support.

And now for something completely different.

I was saddened to hear of the death of Chuck Yeager at 97. I learned of Chuck Yeager when I was in junior high school, and he has been a hero to me ever since. He was a World War II ace who became a test pilot after the war and was the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound. In total, he flew more than 150 military aircraft, logging more than 10,000 hours in the air.

But despite his ability as a pilot he was never selected for NASA’s Mercury space program because, if you believe the book (and the movie) “The Right Stuff,” he wasn’t an engineer. Yeager was a high school graduate but he truly had the right stuff.

Now for one more item.

Since last week’s column, I’ve had egg on my face for looking into the future.

I wrote this year was the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I was a year off. Monday was the 79th anniversary, as was pointed out by a couple of readers, and I thank them for their diligence.

And I was reminded in an email that Jan. 1 marks the 79th anniversary of the start of the battle of Bataan. The men who survived that battle and their captivity under the Japanese are also heroes. They, too, had the “right stuff.”

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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