French journalist, critic and novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr is most widely credited with the saying: "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

    It's an expression so commonly used that it's been seen in acronym form in texts and social network sites: TMTCTMTSTS.

    I had to give it some thought recently when I took a stroll down memory lane. Curious about the past — specifically what was going on 10 years ago — I browsed through pages of Meridian Star newspapers published in February 2001. That's when I moved to Meridian.

    I had to double check the date as I stared at the top story of the first paper that month. "Marion sues over sewage," the headline read.

    Marion sought an injunction to stop the city of Meridian from "imposing an exorbitant fee" for sewage treatment.

    On the international scene U.S. and British warplanes bombed radar sites in Iraq that threatened our allies patrolling the no-fly zone, and Moammar Gadhafi was the big news as he welcomed home the alleged terrorist Lamen Khalifa after he was acquitted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

    Speaking of acquittals, February 2001 was a month where some controversy was swirling around Lauderdale County District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell. He was on trial that month after being indicted for several counts of false voter registration in 1999. He was acquitted on three counts, and the jury deadlocked on three other counts.

    Also in the local political arena 10 years ago there was a lot of discussion as to how much power our mayor (then John Robert Smith) should have in our strong-mayor system of government when it comes to intervening in police business. And all five of our current Meridian City Council members, George Thomas (Ward 1), Mary Perry (Ward 2), Barbara Henson (Ward 3), Jesse E. Palmer Sr. (Ward 4), and Bobby Smith (Ward 5), filed for re-election. One of the concerns expressed by candidates was the need to get our roads in better shape.

    There were concerns expressed in several articles because of redistricting that was going to be done based on the 2000 census numbers.

    The Hispanic population boom was in the news.

    There was speculation as to who was going to be the new co-host on ABC's "Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee." Kelly Ripa was announced as a finalist to take Kathie Lee Gifford's place with Regis Philbin, who now plans to retire.

    Earlier this month Eminem's performance with Dr. Dre created a lot of excitement over the Grammys. In February 2001 it was Eminem's duet at the awards show with Elton John that snagged so much attention.

    Also at the 2001 Grammys Shelby Lynne, who played here last month at the MSU Riley Center, which was a project just beginning to get off the ground in February 2001, received the award for Best New Artist.

    Here at home the Southern Arts & Entertainment Center legislation designating Meridian as the home for the center was passed by the Mississippi Senate.

    The Best Picture Oscar in February 2001 went to "A Beautiful Mind," the biographical film about American mathematician John Nash and his struggle to overcome a debilitating condition — schizophrenia. Tonight's favorite Best Picture nominee, "The King's Speech," chronicles King George VI of Britain's struggle to overcome his debilitating speech impediment.

    In February 2001 we lost Dale Evans, Queen of the West, who died at the age of 88, and Dale Earnhardt, killed when he crashed during the Daytona 500.

    And folks were just as worried about schools in February 2001 as they are today, and for the same reasons. Locally a 16-year-old Kate Griffin Junior High student was charged as an adult in February 2001 for aggravated assault after allegedly cutting the throat of another student at school with a razor. Also that month a Meridian High School teacher was injured while trying to break up a fight at school. And, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove ordered $94.3 million in spending cuts in the areas of public schools, public safety and universities and junior colleges, citing a downturn in Mississippi tax collections.

    This time 10 years ago Meridian Little Theatre was in rehearsal for its upcoming show "12 Angry Men," Girl Scout cookies were being delivered, and Meridianites celebrated Mardi Gras with a block party downtown.

    We also were introduced to Wade Jones, named president of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation in February 2001. He said the priorities of the EMBDC are to work with existing industries to get them what they need to grow and prosper, to help maintain and improve on the quality of life here, and to pursue new manufacturing jobs.

    "We (the EMBDC) are the catalyst that helps to make things happen in this community," said Jones. "But we can't do that in a vacuum."

    It's fun to go back and look at where we've been, where we're going, what's changed, and what hasn't.

    Steve Gillespie is managing editor of The Meridian Star. Email him at sgillespie@themeridianstar.com.

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