Oxford continues to be recognized nationally for the unique and wonderful quality of life available to its residents. We are so blessed to have two excellent public school systems, quality city services, and some of the best recreational opportunities in North Mississippi.
I am often asked about what makes Oxford so special… What exactly is Oxford’s “secret sauce?” I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. Most college towns have a certain festive atmosphere and lots of entertainment options. There are a lot of towns with thriving downtown districts, great architecture and tree-lined streets. So, what is it? In my opinion, it is the people. The people of Oxford care. We care about our community. We care about our neighbors.
The beauty of our town does not happen by accident. It starts downtown with a 4:00 a.m. work crew that I refer to as “underground Disney.” They make sure that by the time folks arrive on the Square at 8:00 a.m., even the flowers are smiling. From beautiful hanging baskets and flower beds, to well-manicured parks and beautifully maintained City buildings, Oxford’s Building and Grounds Department never receives the proper recognition for all that they do.
Oxford residents have come to expect a certain level of services, and I believe it is the attention to small details that sets Oxford apart from other towns. Over the past four years we have done several small things that make a difference. We modernized our Oxford logo, and had it trademarked. We went through a branding process with each City department and created a unified logo and signage. This gives all of our City vehicles, buildings and properties a more professional look. We have made improvements to our parks, and installed wayfinding signage to help visitors find our attractions more easily. We washed the big blue water tower that is a focal point downtown, and we installed many sidewalks and repaired others.
My administration has also done several things to showcase our wonderful citizens. For example, we spotlighted our Oxford and Lafayette High School graduates on the big screen beside City Hall when graduations were canceled. We spotlighted our 2019 Oxford Football State Champions on the water tower and with a ceremony for the community on the Square. We have introduced and congratulated sports teams from Oxford and Lafayette Schools for their success in our City Board Meetings. And I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many hours we spent designing and selecting colors for the new water tower behind Kroger! It’s really attractive, don’t you think?
When I was elected Mayor in 2017, it was a goal of mine to bring back traditions that our town treasured from days gone by. I often asked older residents what their fondest memories were of Oxford when they were a child. So many of those people told me that they vividly remembered the “canopy of lights over the Square” at Christmas. John Cofield is an Oxford Historian, and he posted photos of the canopy of lights of the Square on his Facebook page. I finally understood what these older Oxonians were talking about!
I was determined to bring the canopy of lights Christmas tradition back to Oxford, and we did so in 2018 with a slight change – we used all white lights. The canopy of lights on the Oxford Square have been turned on right before Thanksgiving the past two years, but in a year that has been anything but typical, we flipped the switch early. Since the University of Mississippi Students were finished with their semester before Thanksgiving this year, we wanted them to enjoy it before they were out for school.
Taking our cherished traditions and turning them into new experiences brings joy to us all. In addition to the canopy of lights over the Square, we brought back another Christmas lighting tradition. As best we can determine from photographs and fuzzy memories, the tradition of lighting the blue water tower in downtown Oxford began in 1994, and continued until 2009. We have heard stories of how people knew they were home for the holidays when they spotted the lights on the water tower while driving on Highways 6 and 7.
As Mayor, I will continue to find ways to improve our quality of life in Oxford. Let’s move forward together.