By NATHAN GREGORY
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver started his speech at former Starkville Director of Finance and City Clerk Markeeta Outlaw’s retirement reception Friday with a question: “Can we change your mind?”
Outlaw officially retired May 31 after a 28-year career with the city of Starkville. She had served as city clerk since 2004 and began her 12-year tenure as deputy city clerk in 1992. She began her career for the city in 1985 at Starkville Electric Department.
The reception was held at City Hall. Family and friends were in attendance.
Speakers included Mayor Parker Wiseman, Mississippi District 38 House Rep. Tyrone Ellis, retired City Personnel Director John L. Young, retired City Clerk Vivian Collier, 16th Section Missionary Baptist Church Pastor William Richardson and Josey Creek Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Thomas Rogers.
Ellis said though Outlaw has retired, she will still continue to give back to Starkville.
“Markeeta will be working somewhere as long as she lives in this city. That’s her heart. That’s the way she operates. That’s in her DNA. She wants to make a difference,” Ellis said. “We look forward to both (husband) John, Markeeta and family continuing their work for the city of Starkville and making the city of Starkville a better place for all of us.”
Wiseman said one of his fondest memories when working with her was the extra effort she made to help start and coordinate a Starkville Mayor’s Youth Council.
“We had been going to municipal conferences, and I had been learning about other cities in the state that had a Mayor’s Youth Council. I, too, wanted to see us have one, but I didn’t know how we were going to pull (one) together,” Wiseman said. “So I said, ‘Markeeta, I’ll tell you what. I would like for us to do this if you will help me.’ So Markeeta from there went and found an intern on campus at Mississippi State that ushered us through the establishment of a Mayor’s Youth Council, and she has coordinated that program since then. Nowhere in the job description for city clerk in the city of Starkville ... will you find coordinating the Mayor’s Youth Council. Markeeta does that because she cares.”
Collier began her remarks with a bridge and a chorus from gospel singer-songwriter Andrae Crouch’s “My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)” before commending her for her accomplishments and years of service.
“City government lost a big assistance, one who sees the job that needs to be done and will press until it’s done. The city has lost a noble and calming disposition,” Collier said. “She always had a quick answer. The city of Starkville … as of May 31 lost a valuable asset in Markeeta Outlaw, however, the city herself retains a sparkling jewel in Markeeta because she will be here among us.”
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins said he has consistently relied on Outlaw for advice and held a great amount of trust with her.
“She’s been a great clerk for the city. She has been a great role model (and) a great mentor. She’s been a very distinguished public servant,” Perkins said.
In her remarks Outlaw talked about her faith, family and excitement for what the future holds. She thanked her husband for his support during her tenure and talked about each of her children, John Jr., Travis, Derrick and Kaelah.
“(My) journey as city clerk … has been both rewarding and challenging. It’s been tiring but energizing. The mayor said it best: It’s a bittersweet moment,” Outlaw said. “I will not miss the work. Everybody says everyone has a bucket list. I have been really looking forward to tackling my bucket list.”