East Jasper Targets Improvement

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The small town of Pennington, Ala., could get a hotel. Mayor Jack Findley says it could result from upcoming improvements with the town's sewage system.

This week, the town was awarded the final funds needed for the project. The $110,000 federal grant was awarded by the delta regional authority. Upgrades to the sewage system are expected to take about two years.

Once completed, Findley says some investors have expressed interest in opening a hotel in the town. Dr. Henry Johnson, the superintendent of education for the state Mississippi, was the guest speaker at a community meeting in one of the smaller school districts in the state.

"This is a small district and we're just elated to have him visit East Jasper," said superintendent Montrell Green, who was assumed his position in July.

The elementary school, William Berry, is a level one school and the high school's situation is even worse. Heidelberg High School has been designated a "priority" school by the state department of education.

The community was called upon to rise up and build a better school district.

"Communities have the schools that they demand," said Dr. Johnson.

At the same time, students were encouraged to take more responsibility in the education process. Teachers, principals and even superintendents could be removed if student performance doesn't improve.

Officials with the state department of education are spending this week in the district, assisting with identifying goals and solutions for school and student improvement.