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Starkville officials head to Ariz. for ‘Congress of Cities’

November 6, 2011

By STEVEN NALLEY
citybeat@bellsouth.net

Three city officials will travel to Phoenix, Ariz., for the National League of Cities’ Congress of Cities and Exposition Nov. 8-13.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman, Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker and Ward 7 Alderman Henry N. Vaughn will be out of town attending the event. The Congress of Cities is actually a set of four concurrent conferences, each with its own keynote speakers, workshops and peer networking sessions. These include the Economic Development Conference, the Green Cities Conference, the Infrastructure Conference and the National Summit on Your City’s Families.
Wiseman said he is looking forward to the Congress of Cities.
“Their curriculum is something we expect to be outstanding,” Wiseman said. “In addition to information that the organization will have prepared on local government, it allows us to meet and talk to city leaders throughout the country. That’s an invaluable experience because you find that the challenges that face one city face many other cities as well. It’s an invaluable opportunity to learn and make contacts with peer elected officials from throughout the United States.”
Parker said city officials routinely attend and benefit from attending the annual Mississippi Municipal League conference.
“This is just a little more extensive,” Parker said. “It provides a little broader spectrum of what’s going on in the country. It’s helped many other departments in our city when we’ve allowed those department heads to go (to national conferences).”
Parker said City Clerk Markeeta Outlaw had recommended the Congress of Cities to her fellow city officials. He said he is especially interested in learning about public-private partnerships and how other cities handle them.
Wiseman said all board members were given the opportunity to join him in traveling to the Congress of Cities, but only Vaughn and Parker had schedules which could accommodate the event. He said this is also his first time attending the Congress of Cities as Starkville’s mayor.
“We have maintained membership (in the National League of Cities,) but this is the first time (in this term) we’ll actually be able to send city officials to the conference,” Wiseman said. “It would have been difficult last year with the state of the travel budget in the last fiscal year. This year, there were some unutilized travel funds from the previous year’s travel budget.”
The Mississippi and Oktibbeha County general election is concurrent with the first day of the Congress of Cities, but Wiseman and Parker both said they have already filed their absentee ballots. Wiseman said he was looking forward to following the election while away on Tuesday.
“It’s always an exciting day,” Wiseman said.

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