By MATT CRANE
At a luncheon hosted by Mississippi State University at Fire Station No. 1 in Starkville Monday, MSU President Mark Keenum and Mayor Parker Wiseman personally served holiday meals to local first responders in honor of their commitment to both campus and city.
Keenum said he began hosting the annual event four years ago when he took office as a small token of the university’s appreciation for the outstanding men and women protecting the MSU campus and Starkville community.
“It gives me great comfort to know that if any crisis or situation arises that requires emergency response, we have such dedicated professionals here than can respond,” he said. “We have such an outstanding team here serving our community needs.”
Wiseman said he praised the Starkville Fire Department as one of the best in the state.
“They do an excellent job not only protecting the structures in the city of Starkville, but some very significant structures on the MSU campus,” he said. “This is a department that has much more complex responsibilities than a lot of fire departments in similar communities throughout the state.”
Wiseman said he also appreciated the efforts of both the Starkville and MSU police departments as well as the Sheriff’s office for their work in the community and their partnership with the university.
“They all work very closely together on game day and do something that’s really unique and special to the university,” he said. “It’s very appreciated by all involved.”
Commenting on how community members can show their appreciation for Starkville’s first responders, Keenum said a simply saying, “thanks,” can go a long way.
“These are people who, when the bell rings and they go into a crisis situation, can literally be putting their lives on the line to protect us,” he said. “I think that means a lot just hearing from citizens what their job and their service means to this community.”
Echoing Keenum’s sentiments, Wiseman said community members should be diligent in expressing their gratitude toward the men and women serving both campus and community.
“Never assume that the first responders in this community know how much they are appreciated,” he said. “Take the initiative to say something nice and show that you realize the tremendous sacrifice that they and their families are making because of the line of work they are in.”
SFD Battalion Chief Consella Hampton said he was thankful for the display of gratitude by the university and city Monday.
“It feels great to be recognized,” he said. “To see that someone is thinking about us other than when they have a fire just feels great overall.”