Jul 13

Facts, not Hysteria, not Politics

Posted on July 13, 2020 at 2:59 PM by Darren Musselwhite

FACTS, NOT HYSTERIA, NOT POLITICS…

COVID-19 Update:

Effective today, July 13, 2020, Governor Reeves declared Executive Order #1507 which will be displayed on the City of Southaven’s website to be viewed in its entirety.  It has specific changes for specific counties. The key changes for Desoto County are as follows:

Masks must be worn by all people in all retail businesses and in any business or gathering by people who cannot maintain a distance of 6 feet from other people.

Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and outdoor gathering to 20.

Along with my staff, I have answered many hundreds of questions regarding the Governor’s Orders throughout this pandemic.  My goal today is not to try to explain the thought processes of someone else, but to give direction and lead those who read this with facts.

First, many who are regarded as public health experts have given and continue to give us incorrect information throughout this pandemic.  When someone gives me incorrect information multiple times, they lose credibility.  This is not disrespectful to them, but simply factual.  When many people rely on your statements, you have a great responsibility to be accurate.  There is nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t know”.  Unfortunately, the former has been rampant during this pandemic and hard to know who to believe, so I encourage everyone to join me in making logical judgments considering facts.  Let’s talk about the facts and I will share my thoughts…

This virus is real and very dangerous for a very small percentage of our people.  We should all do our part with a common sense, practical approach to protect all of our people.  Although I do not agree with government mandates considering real data now, I do think we should all stay smart with hygiene, social distancing, and common courtesies to our fellow man.  I encourage facial coverings when in dense gatherings (less than 6 feet apart) if an individual is able to do this without jeopardizing their own health.  Individuals should make their own decisions regarding their health, not governments.  I strongly disagree with “shutdowns” and limitations of any kind that kill our economy and increase other health risks, considering the real numbers (*99.99% of Desoto Countians and 99.96% of Mississippians have survived this virus to date).

Testing is not accurate, period.

Even for the testing statistics we have, we know that positive case counts will naturally rise with more testing.  This does not accurately prove that the infection rate is increasing.  How do you know how many people have been positive, but never got sick, nor got tested?   You don’t. Testing statistics are not accurate, nor are they a reliable source of information regarding spread rates. 

Desoto County is one of the most densely-populated counties in Mississippi and when you consider that we border Shelby County, TN, we are the most densely-populated area in the state (approximately 1.1 million people combined).  Of course we have one of the highest positive case totals because we have more people and more testing, largely because of mandatory testing by employers. Our fatalities per capita are lower than the State of Mississippi as a whole.

As noted above, we now know that many people who test positive are not sick and statistics that are reliable (fatalities per capita) prove that this virus does not have a dangerous outcome for most people.  Fatality rates, although not perfect, are the most reliable data.  Death rates are not rising exponentially, but have been at a consistent rate throughout this pandemic.  Check the sources below. 

We should also continue to watch and be conscious of hospitalization increases, although again, many statements have proven to be untrue regarding capacity challenges.  However, it is very important that we continue to watch closely.

I plead with all my fellow elected officials and centers of influence to remember that we have a greater responsibility to promote facts and consider all risks to people, including all health risks and devastating risks to livelihoods.  We should listen to credible sources, but the people elected us to maintain sight of the “big picture” and make policy decisions accordingly.

This virus is not going away anytime soon.  We cannot shut down our lives, but must stay smart and proceed with our lives through it.

 *Source:  Mississippi State Department of Health, July 13, 2020

Desoto County Confirmed Cases Per Capita= .96 of 1% (2009/185,000), 98.91% Not Positive

Desoto County Fatalities Per Capita= .010 of 1% (20/185,000), 99.99% Survival Rate

Mississippi Confirmed Cases Per Capita= 1.23% (36,680/2,976,000), 98.77% Not Positive

Mississippi Fatalities Per Capita= .04 of 1% (1,250/2,976,000), 99.96% Survival Rate


Jul 09

Google

Posted on July 9, 2020 at 10:42 AM by Darren Musselwhite

When one word is sufficient for the title of your announcement, you know it’s a big one!

It’s such an exciting time in Southaven and our next new development ranks with the most significant to ever happen in our city’s history!  Google has announced they will open the first U.S. Google Operations Center in Southaven, Mississippi, which will provide human customer and operations support for Google customers and users around the world.  The new 60,000 square-foot facility will be located in our Metropolitan District at 5665 Airways Boulevard, just north of the Tanger Outlet Mall and adjacent to I-55.   Construction is projected to begin in August of this year with occupancy and operations beginning in the second quarter of 2021.  This operation will bring 100 new professional jobs initially with plans to potentially expand to 350, all from our local workforce talent pool.  There are currently only two other facilities like this in the world, one in the Philippines, the other in India.

Google is a titan in the global economy and we are honored to have their first-class operation in our city.  It’s a great testament to our city and people that such a fine organization has chosen us as their newest home.  I look forward to seeing the career opportunities this will provide for our people and the joint success the City of Southaven, Desoto County, State of Mississippi, and Google will enjoy together for many years in the future.

It’s very rewarding to see that our city’s assets, priorities, and quality of life have become appealing to the strongest and best organizations in the world.  These organizations make mention of our key geographic location; educated and talented workforce; attractive and pride-soaked city; excellent parks and recreational opportunities; and appealing place to call home.  Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?!  The little things do amount to big things!

Congratulations Southaven, the best is yet to come!

Jun 10

Vintage Signs

Posted on June 10, 2020 at 4:14 PM by Darren Musselwhite

The general purposes of a municipal sign ordinance are to ensure traffic safety and the aesthetic value of a city while citizens, businesses, and other organizations communicate their messages.  This is one of the most challenging ordinances for any city and sign ordinances have evolved tremendously over the years.  For many years, the City of Southaven has been extremely effective in improving the aesthetic value of our city with our current ordinance. 

As we continue with the challenge of revitalization in our original business district, older signs have presented different challenges than in other parts of our city.  It’s common that economic demand changes in the older, original areas of cities.  Southaven is not immune to this.  While many have replaced or removed old signs from vacated businesses, “grandfather clauses” and the cost of new signs has discouraged many businesses from replacing old, dilapidated signs with new, conforming signs.  We began questioning if our sign ordinance was effective or counterproductive to our revitalization goals.  During this re-evaluation, we received an excellent idea from one of our citizens, Ricky Neal, who shares our goal of revitalizing our original business district.  The basis for Ricky’s idea and proposal is that some businesses in this district cannot afford a fully-conforming sign and could be deterred from making the improvements that they can afford.  This would be counterproductive to our goal of revitalization.  For this reason, we took Ricky’s idea of allowing older or “vintage” signs to be changed without being fully replaced and amended our ordinance fairly and consistently for signs that are 30 years old or older.

The Vintage Sign Ordinance, which was officially adopted by our Board of Aldermen on June 2, 2020, will allow the re-facing and/or re-surfacing of these older signs without requiring full conformance.  We hope that this change will encourage businesses to improve their signs, leading to an improved aesthetic value and positive contribution to our general economic attractiveness.