By Kevin Edwards
BC Staff Writer
The past decade has been one of consistency and growth for Cleveland, said Mayor Billy Nowell.
Nowell, who has served as mayor since 2009, said Cleveland is on an upward trend.
“I think (in 2009) we had great strides and were doing well, but I think over the last 10 years we have really made a lot of good progress,” said Nowell. “And I think we’re poised to do even more.”
Looking back over the last 10 years, Nowell said he is happy to have seen the expansion of Cleveland business.
The mayor pointed out Delta State University, the Grammy Museum, the Martin and Sue King Railroad Heritage Museum, and the success of locals staying in Cleveland.
“We’ve had many restaurants and retail businesses open in the last 10 years,” Nowell said. “Back when we had out-of-town guests, a lot of them say Cleveland is very unique because you had big town shopping with a small town atmosphere, which we do. Most of these restaurants that have opened are local restaurants and that gives a local flavor.”
The mayor thanked Willie Simmons, outgoing senator for District 13, for “being somebody locally that you can turn to get help, and he’s always been there for us.”
Nowell said that 2020 is set for more growth and more development.
Among future highlights include the construction of four to six soccer fields on Yale Street as well as the construction of a new animal shelter.
Nowell acknowledged population loss in the Delta but said Cleveland has a great opportunity to remain a reason for people to stay.
“I think it’s really up to Cleveland,” Nowell said. “We have a lot of fine assets here and a lot of quality of life issues that help people here. I do see it as our mission for not only Bolivar County but also all of the Delta.
“I know I see different families moving in from other towns in the Delta. That makes me feel good because that shows we do have a quality of life that they appreciate here.”
Nowell mentioned the same board of aldermen led Cleveland for the entire decade. Aldermen included Danny Abraham, Ted Campbell, Gary Gainspoletti, Paul Janoush, Kirk Povall, Robert Sanders and Maurice Smith.
“I do feel like having the same board has helped because everybody gets used to everybody,” Nowell said. “I will say we have a very unique board. It’s very diverse and has a lot of qualities that we need when you have lawyers, accountants, school administrators and local storeowners.
“We have a good group and what I like about the group is everybody is into it. They do ask questions, and when we vote on something or look at something, I can assure you it’s been looked at by all seven aldermen.”
Nowell said the operation of Cleveland is well maintained.
“From a city standpoint, I would put our department heads up against anybody in the state. I think we have an outstanding group. If you travel downtown with our 50 Nights of Lights, you see how clean our downtown is. You see guys out everyday picking up trash and working hard.
“I’ve always kind of gone by the thought, and I’ve learned this from my father, that cleanliness is next to godliness. I think we present ourselves to people when they come from out of town as a really clean town.”
Nowell also praised city clerk Dominique Green.
“I can’t think of anybody I would rather work with,” Nowell said. “She’s the easiest person I’ve ever worked with. One unique thing about Dominique is I can text her or email of something the night before and when I come in the office the next morning, a letter is on my desk to address what we had discussed the night before.
“She is really an outstanding person and I think she has really helped the backbone of our department heads.”
Over the next decade, Nowell said he would like to see more of the same consistent and steady growth for Cleveland.
The mayor pointed out wanting more conventions and conferences for the city.
Additionally, Nowell would like to go out statewide to pitch to organizations in person to bring their events to Cleveland.