Happy birthday, Verona!
Lee County’s oldest town celebrates its 159th year of existence Saturday with a street party. The festivities begin at noon and are centered around City Hall and the Verona Fire Station on East Main Street between Johnson Avenue and College Street. Verona was chartered as a town in 1860, situated on what was the GM&O Railroad and is today the Kansas City Southern. A second railroad built through Lee County prompted some Verona businesses to relocate northward to Tupelo around the crossroads of the two rail systems. Growing from basically a small village, Verona today boasts a population of about 3,300 people within its city limits, which comprise 3.8 square miles immediately south of Tupelo. According to Mayor Bobby Williams, a bench honoring previous Verona mayors will be dedicated at City Hall. One of the city’s oldest residents, 98-year-old Ada Metcalf will be honored though she is not likely to attend the event. Doris Friday, 92, and Artic Trice, 94, are slated to be present to receive certificates. A political speaking will occur at Verona Fire Station around 1 pm., while hamburgers, hot dogs, soft drinks and water will be provided free of charge for hungry and thirsty patrons. A band will perform later in the afternoon. Jessie Gilmore, Verona alderwoman and vice mayor, said one of the city’s oldest living teachers, Mary Farrah, will also be honored for her years of service at Verona Elementary School. Gilmore said the city’s first historical marker, outlining a brief history of the town, has been approved and will be acknowledged; it will be erected in Billy Fred Wheeler Railroad Park across from City Hall once it is delivered. Al Arnold and Julian Riley will speak about some aspects of Verona’s history. Gilmore said while the celebration is focused on the history of the city, it is also designed to “embrace the new, too.” She pointed out Verona is now home to a new medical clinic and pharmacy, among other things. “It will be finished at about 2 p.m. but the band may play later,” said Gilmore. The event is free and open to the public.