3 On The Road: Longtime mayor reflects on Magee's rapid growth - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

3 On The Road: Longtime mayor reflects on Magee's rapid growth

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
MAGEE, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Magee that most people know is the busy strip of U.S. Highway 49, chock full of everything travelers need as they pass through on their way to or from the Gulf Coast.

Before that area was so developed, Jimmy Clyde was the mayor. He still is, although he has decided to let his fifth term be his last. He remembers when most of Magee's businesses were downtown, on the old highway.

"We're half-way between Jackson and Hattiesburg," he points out. "We're basically 45 miles from everywhere. Within that radius, with some studies we've done, there's 800,000 people, and that's amazing."

He says private developers took advantage of Magee's location and fueled the rapid growth along Highway 49.

"Anytime somebody's going to the coast or to go gamble or whatever, they've got to come through Magee," he says. "There's no doubt about it. So our location is very key to our success."

All the tax money collected along the highway has enabled the city to invest in where things started: downtown.

"We put sidewalks in, we put planters in, we put new lighting in, and we repaved downtown," the mayor said. 

Seventeen years ago, the legislature and then voters enabled the city to start collecting a one-percent sales tax at restaurants to pay for a sprawling sports complex south of downtown. With multiple ball fields, concession stands, and ample parking, it can get busy in spring and summer.

As money from the one-percent tax continues to come in, upgrades are made; the latest is artificial turf, which is being installed on nine of the baseball fields.

"We're putting a splash pad there also," said Clyde. "We're spending almost a million dollars on all of our parks at the present time. We just re-did our tennis courts and re-paved our walking track at our city park. But our sportsplex has really paid a lot of dividends for our community and our merchants also, because when people come to all these state tournaments and everything, they're going to eat here, they're going to buy gas here, they're going to stay here. We've got five hotels in the city of Magee, and they benefit from this also."

As Mayor Clyde prepares to retire from the mayor's office, he says he's not going anywhere.

"You feel safe," he says. "I don't mind walking at 9:30 or 10:00 at night. Life is good."

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