I’ve recently returned to Ridgeland, Mississippi as a permanent resident for the first time since 2000. I had lived here previously from 1992 until late Spring of 2000 and back then it was, in so many ways, a very different place.
Some of my fondest memories are of living at The Trace Apartments, a complex when, I moved in, was partially owned by former Cowboys QB great Roger Staubach and was an “elite” address, if you can imagine. I don’t know what the apartments are like now but in the mid to late 90s they were a haven for professionals who didn’t want to own or simply appreciated apartment living.
Much has changed since then. The progress and construction in the city is almost unprecedented for any community in Mississippi and the thanks for that goes to the vision of a Ridgeland “constant,” Mayor Gene McGee. (Can you remember a time when he wasn’t mayor?!)
I recently met with Mayor McGee and I forgot exactly how many years he told me he’s been at the helm of the city he loves but it’s been since I first moved here I know. We met to discuss my starting a Ridgeland community newspaper. He liked the idea and said he would help out in any way he could; but I’ve since decided to instead stick with the BAMSouth.com brand for print, perhaps expand into other state markets, and–in our debut issue coming out very soon–focus on the City of Ridgeland in a Progress Report.
Let me say this about Gene McGee: he has always had an open door policy and will take a phone call personally. Nothing is too trivial or mundane for the Mayor to devote his time to listen and do so patiently all while offering possible solutions to any problem one of his town’s citizens might have. He’s a good man and a good mayor and his leadership qualities trickle down to the city departments.
City of Ridgeland employees are good people who show genuine concern. You name the department, chances are very high you’ll get problems resolved and/or questions answered. Politely.
I especially have to note the work of my friend Sandra Rives Monohan, who puts together and oversees the official city publication, Ridgeland Life. I’ve known Sandra since we both worked together at the old Camelot Music in Northpark–still a Ridgeland shopping destination–waaaaay back in 1985 (!) and she does an outstanding job with the magazine which is published to inform and delight Ridgeland residents. I even interviewed Sandra for a profile story I was going to publish on her back in 2011–I’ve yet to print it but will one day. She certainly deserves it.
It must also be noted that the Ridgeland Police Department is a top notch organization as is the Fire Department. In all of my dealings with the police and firemen here I can honestly say that I’ve never encountered a more professional, polite and decent group of public servants. This can’t be stressed enough in the the heated climate we live in today where our offices are, more than ever, putting their lives on the line.
Retail? Ridgeland has it in droves. The aforementioned Northpark is still a beautiful facility. Renaissance on Highland Colony is unique. But I’m really impressed with the smaller, locally owned stores and shops the city has. From Kinkades to Mostly Marthas and from B. Liles to Jazzy Dancer and so many, many others, Ridgeland has a plethora of entrepreneurs and small business owners who offer a variety of products with top-notch customer service.
The food and beverage selection ain’t bad either. Think Ely’s, McB’s, the finest Arby’s in the Metro, Anjou, the great new CC’s Coffee House which serves the best coffee anywhere, Fratesi’s, Mama Hamil’s. Again, I could go on and on.
How about the multi-purpose nature trail off of 51? Is there a better to place to run, ride or walk in the Metro. No, there’s not. As a runner, I can tell you this well kept stretch, complete with water fountains and bathroom facilities, is an athlete’s dream.
How about Woodlands Office Park off of County Line Road? THE nicest business facility I’ve ever seen, managed expertly by my friend, supporter and advertiser, Russell Wilcox.
If I leave anybody or any business out, I’m sorry. That’s both the problem and the great thing about Ridgeland: there’s so much to choose from it’s hard to remember it all.
Are there some bummers? Of course. But we’re pro-business here at BAMSouth.com so we’ll not mention those few that do exist. Trust me, though–they are in the minority in Ridgeland.
I’m looking forward to focusing on my (once again) residence, Ridgeland, MS, from now until October on both the BAMSouth.com website and the new print edition coming out soon. We have some stories lined up that will inspire you and surprise you. I guarantee it.
So, yes, Ridgeland lives up to the hype. And I’m glad to be back.