By STEVEN NALLEY
On Nov. 29-30, Starkville City Planner Ben Griffith will attend the Mississippi Chapter of the American Planning Association’s 2011 Annual Conference in Greenwood.
Griffith was elected in late October as the northern representative for the conference’s executive board. When he received notice by email, he said he was surprised and honored.
“It was like, ‘Here’s the new officers,’ and lo and behold my name was on there,” Griffith said. “I’ll be the first to say I don’t know everyone — I don’t know all the planners — but I do talk to them when I go, and it’s not like I was actively politicking and campaigning. I just did a little position statement, was on the ballot and got elected.”
Starkville Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill said having Griffith as a representative at the conference will reflect well on Starkville.
“Anytime you have someone that is being recognized for their expertise it puts the city in a good light,” Spruill said, “and we’re certainly delighted to have it.”
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said Griffith’s election to the board was exciting news.
“Ben works very hard both for the city and as a member of his professional organization,” Wiseman said. “We’re excited that he is being recognized for his efforts.”
Wiseman also said Griffith routinely brings lessons back from the conference which benefit the city as a whole.
“(The American Planning Association) is the professional organization for city and regional planning,” Wiseman said. “(Griffith) stays on top of the latest trends and developments in city planning.”
A message from APA Mississippi Chapter President Ed Shambra on the conference’s website says Greenwood’s historic Alluvian Hotel will provide accommodations for the conference, and the Episcopal Church of the Nativity will serve as the conference’s headquarters. Shambra says the information sessions will include a mobile workshop, sessions on legal and ethical issues, a blues reception, and a walking tour of Greenwood.
“We are extremely excited about this Conference location, taking particular note of the fine Program that has been prepared,” Shambra said. “We also extend particular thanks to the Mayor of Greenwood, Carolyn McAdams, and to Thomas Gregory, AICP, Chief Administrative Officer and fellow Planner, and of course to the many fine citizens of Greenwood, all of whom contributed to this intriguing venue.”
The conference will also feature training from the Bouchillon Institute of Community Planning, formed in north Mississippi to train officials in community planning. The program for the conference says the training includes fundamentals in planning and zoning, meeting management, commissioner ethics and a basic understanding of historical, statutory and constitutional frameworks for planning and zoning in Mississippi.
Guest speakers for the conference include Allan Hammons, president of the marketing firm which developed the Mississippi Blues Trail; Bob Wilson, executive director of the Mississippi Main Street Association; Ward Emling, the director of the Mississippi Film Office who guided production of “The Help;” and Scott Samson, director of the Geospatial Education and Outreach project at Mississippi State University.