By Alyssa Schnugg
The meeting of the Oxford Board of Aldermen was a short, albeit emotional one Tuesday as the empty chair recently occupied by the late Alderman Ulysses “Coach” Howell was a staunch reminder of his loss.
Through tears, Mayor Robyn Tannehill recognized his leadership and love for the Oxford community.
“I speak for all city employees and leaders past and present when I say that Ulysses Howell was a one-of-a-kind leader, mentor and friend,” she said at the start of the meeting. “He was the definition of a true public servant. He will be missed.”
Tannehill asked for a moment of silence to reflect on Howell’s life and legacy.
Howell died May 11 after suffering from a massive stroke. He served as an alderman since 1993 and worked for the Oxford School District for more than 37 years before retiring in 2009.
A special election will be held to fill the Ward 4 seat on July 2. Those wishing to run for the position have until June 12 to qualify by garnering 50 signatures from residents living in Ward 4. If a runoff is necessary it will be held on July 16.
“If it were up to me, we’d wait a long time before anyone sat in that chair,” Tannehill said. “It is dictated by state statute on how the process works.”
Later in the meeting, Tannehill’s eyes once again filled with tears; however, she was not alone. Sniffles and the ruffle of tissues could be heard as another announcement was made concerning Howell.
Chief Operating Officer Bart Robinson presented a recommendation to rename the Oxford Activity Center to the Ulysses “Coach” Howell Activity Center.
“If you look back over the things Coach either motioned or seconded, you’d quickly see his passion for youth and recreation. He served on the Oxford Park Commission Board before becoming an alderman,” Tannehill said. “He was so excited about the opening of the new Activity Center.”
Alderman Janice Antonow made the motion to approve and Alderman Preston Taylor seconded. It passed unanimously.
A rendering of the future sign was framed and presented to Howell’s daughter, Kesha Atkinson.
Oxford Park Director Seth Gaines said the new sign will be placed on the Activity Center the first week of June.