Percy Bland

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Percy Bland
PB inaug 01444.jpg
Speaking at the Meridian Temple Theater (July 1, 2013)
Mayor of Meridian, Mississippi
Assumed office
July 1, 2013 (2013-July-01)
Preceded by Cheri Merritt Barry
Personal details
Born (1970-09-23) September 23, 1970 (age 47)
Crystal Springs, Mississippi
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Deidre Bland (m. 1999)
Residence Meridian, Mississippi
Alma mater Xavier University of Louisiana (B.S.)
University of Southern Mississippi (M.P.H.)
Profession State Farm Insurance Agent
Website Official Website

Percy Bland is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who currently serves as the mayor of Meridian, Mississippi.

Early life[edit]

Percy Bland was born in Crystal Springs, Mississippi on September 23, 1970. Bland grew up in Jackson, Mississippi and attended St. Joseph High School, Bland later earned a B.S in Chemistry at Xavier University of Louisiana of New Orleans, and played collegiate basketball. Bland also earned a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) degree at the University of Southern Mississippi.[1]

Career[edit]

Bland went on to work for the Fulton County Health Department in Atlanta, Georgia where he served as an epidemiologist in the Tuberculosis Control Department. Bland met his wife Deidre in Atlanta and the couple was married on August 15, 1999. Deidre Bland currently works as a teacher at Ross Collins in the Meridian Public School District. Bland returned to Mississippi and began employment as the Human Resources Director and Marketing Director with the G.A. Carmichael Family Health Center. Bland came to Meridian to own and operate a State Farm Insurance Agency. Bland continues to run and manage a very successful insurance Agency.[1]

Community involvement[edit]

In 2007, Bland served as co-chair to pass a bond issue for the first major renovations and improvements to Meridian’s public schools in more than 20 years. The bond issue was for $19.5 million. The bond issue passed on March 27, 2007 with 71.3%.[2][3][4]

Bland also helped establish the Magnolia Youth Sports Association and still runs his own Summer Basketball Camp.[1] Bland helped establish the First Tee Golf Program in Meridian, the first in the state, a golf program aimed at improving the quality of life of primarily inner-city children.[5][6]

Mayor of Meridian[edit]

On June 4, 2013, Percy Bland won the election for mayor of Meridian by 54% of the vote.[7][8] Before he took office, Bland formed a 29-member transition team from the community to study five issues - education, community development, public safety, infrastructure and city partnerships - and make recommendations about how to move improve those areas in Meridian.[9][10] Bland was sworn in as the first African-American mayor of the city of Meridian on July 1, 2013.[11][12]

During the first Meridian City Council meeting of the new administration, on July 2, 2014, Bland proposed his livable wage policy. Bland proposed a $9 an hour minimum salary for all city employees that was to be funded by money saved through cuts to other areas of the municipal budget.[13] Bland's livable wage proposal became city policy when the city council passed the municipal budget on September 17, 2013.[14][15]

Bland and several local businesses began recognizing an outstanding teacher or staff member from two MPSD schools a month during the 2013-14 school year.[16] Improvements to public safety were made to the newly annexed part of Meridian through a new warning siren at the recently constructed fire station in that area.[17] Meridian youth sports were brought together through one comprehensive program in the Meridian Parks and Recreation Department. The program brought in more mentors, more coaches, and more churches as partners for the City of Meridian to work with youth through athletics.[18] In May 2014, the City of Meridian pledged $750,000 to help build a new community center.[19]

In May 2014, the City of Meridian launched a series of new programs to help fight crime in the city, including a new gang task force,[20] a new team of Meridian police officers and citizens to help with tips on crime,[21] and penalizing parents when their children do not comply with the Mississippi Compulsory School Attendance Law.[22]

In June 2014, Bland built a team to bring a new airline carrier to Meridian. American Airlines the largest airline carrier in the world brings their service to Meridian under the American Eagle brand. Express Jet will operate the service for American Airlines.

In September 2014, Bland began a mayor's initiative to raise awareness of school attendance and the dangers of dropping out of high school. Through his Mayor's Youth Council, Bland created a public service announcement that emphasized issues that high school students face, such as bullying, drugs, and depression.[23]

In October 2014, Bland launched his Kidz Zone Initiative, a program that partnered the City of Meridian with city and county schools, both local and private, to strengthen families. On the second Saturday of each month Disney movies are shown at the Meridian Temple Theatre for $2. The program encourages fathers to play an active role within their children's lives. All fathers are allowed free admission to the movie.[24] Also in October 2014, Bland started a "Senior Prom" initiative to engage senior citizens and provide more community activities for that population.[25]

On October 6, 2014, Bland received a letter from Governor Phil Bryant that stated Meridian has been approved for a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant to help fund a new community center in the city's east end that would accommodate up to 400 children.[26]

On January 26, 2015, Bland and Choctaw Tribal Chief Phyliss J. Anderson signed an agreement to restore public transportation in Meridian. The Choctaw Regional Transportation Facility operates in more than a dozen counties in Mississippi. The bus that will be used in Meridian is handicap accessible, and can seat up to 29 people. People will have to call a special number to make arrangements to be picked up and dropped off at sites.[27][28]

On September 2, 2015, Bland, in cooperation with Commissioner Dick Hall, of Mississippi Department of Transportation, and Meridian Public Schools officials, opened a federally funded Safe Routes to Schools bridge at TJ Harris Lower Elementary School.[29][30]

On February 2, 2016, city officials unanimously approved a resolution that authorized and directed the issuance of general obligation bonds for $7.5 million. The bonds will provide funds for the construction, improvement, and paving of streets, sidewalks, driveways, parkways, walkways, bridges and culverts, public parking facilities, and other municipal projects.[31]

On May 18, 2016, Meridian city officials, along with community members and leaders, held a groundbreaking ceremony for Velma Young Community Center. The $2 million project is the first project that brought together the City of Meridian, Lauderdale County, Meridian Housing Authority, and East Mississippi Development for a predominately African-American project. "This has been an under-served area for a number of years, and this community center right here is going to be a huge shot in the arm for this community," said Mayor Percy Bland.[32]

On July 5, 2016, Mayor Bland and the Meridian City Council passed a resolution and ordinance setting a date of August 16, 2016 for a referendum of a two percent (2%) food and beverage levy at restaurants within the city of Meridian. Revenue from the levy will fund the construction, equipment, furnishings, and operation of the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center.[33] The referendum passed with 68.2 percent.[34]

On June 6, 2017, Mayor Bland won a second term against two opponents, Independent Dustin Markham and Republican William Compton. Mayor Bland received 64 percent of the vote, Markham received 34 percent, and Compton received 2 percent.[35]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "About the Mayor". City of Meridian. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  2. ^ "City Gets Ready for Bond Vote". WTOK-TV. February 2, 2007. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Campaign for Meridian's school bond issue in full swing". Meridian Star. March 3, 2007. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  4. ^ "Meridian School Bond Election". WTOK-TV. March 28, 2007. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  5. ^ "Founding Members, Advisory and New Board Members". The First Tee of Meridian. Archived from the original on July 29, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2018 – via archive.is. 
  6. ^ "Donate". The First Tee of Meridian. Archived from the original on July 29, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2018 – via archive.is. 
  7. ^ "Bland Defeats Barry in Meridian Mayoral Race". WTOK-TV. June 5, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  8. ^ Terri Ferguson Smith (June 5, 2013). "New Mayor". Meridian Star. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  9. ^ Andrea Williams (June 13, 2013). "Bland Plans Blueprint for the Future". WTOK-TV. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  10. ^ "New Mayor's Agenda". WTOK-TV. June 28, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  11. ^ Andrea Williams (July 1, 2013). "Mayor, Council Sworn In". WTOK-TV. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  12. ^ Lachlan McIntosh (July 1, 2013). "Percy Bland swearing-in as Meridian Mayor". YouTube. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  13. ^ Andrea Williams (July 3, 2013). "Livable Wage Proposed". WTOK-TV. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  14. ^ Candace Barnette (September 17, 2013). "Meridian City Council Passes 2014 Budget". WTOK-TV. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  15. ^ Terri Ferguson Smith (September 16, 2013). "Council approves employee pay raises, cuts some top salaries". Meridian Star. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  16. ^ "Meridian High School: MPSD Teachers Honored by City of Meridian". September 10, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  17. ^ "New Siren To Be Installed". WTOK-TV. October 2, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  18. ^ Andrea Williams (December 7, 2013). "Parks & Recreation Director Discusses Plans". WTOK-TV. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  19. ^ Terri Ferguson Smith (May 11, 2014). "City pledges $750,000 for grant Money will fund new community center". Meridian Star. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  20. ^ Andrea Williams (May 14, 2014). "MPD Gang Task Force Launched". WTOK-TV. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  21. ^ Candace Barnette (May 14, 2014). "MPD and Citizens Team Up to Fight Gangs". WTOK-TV. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  22. ^ Aaron Morrison (May 16, 2014). "MPD Penalizes Parents for Youth Behavior". WTOK-TV. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  23. ^ Thomas Burton (September 30, 2014). "School Attendance Awareness PSA". YouTube. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  24. ^ Andrea Williams (October 7, 2014). "Kidz Zone Kickoff". WTOK-TV. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  25. ^ Andrea Williams (October 8, 2014). "Meridian's Mayor on Economic Development & Senior Citizen Efforts". WTOK-TV. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  26. ^ "Velma Young Project: Creating Jobs?". WTOK-TV. October 7, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  27. ^ Andrea Williams (January 26, 2015). "Choctaw Tribe - City of Meridian Public Transportation: Signing Day". WTOK-TV. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  28. ^ "Public transportation to run again in Meridian". May 11, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  29. ^ Jeff Byrd (September 3, 2015). "Pedestrian bridge to provide students safe route". The Meridian Star. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  30. ^ "Safe Routes to School Project Unveiled". WTOK-TV. September 2, 2015. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  31. ^ http://www.meridianms.org/default/assets/file/minutes/2016/2-02-2016-minutes.pdf
  32. ^ Emily Paul (May 18, 2016). "Groundbreaking Ceremony Held for Velma Young Center". WTOK-TV. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  33. ^ http://www.meridianms.org/default/assets/File/Minutes/2016/7-05-2016-minutes.pdf
  34. ^ Randall Hammons (August 16, 2016). "Meridian voters support 2-percent entertainment tax". The Meridian Star. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  35. ^ "Mayors re-elected in Meridian, Philadelphia". WTOK-TV. June 6, 2017. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Cheri Barry
Mayor of Meridian, MS
July 1, 2009 – July 1, 2013
Succeeded by
Incumbent