Making things better for everyone focus for Scooba’s Nave
Craig Nave almost doesn’t remember a time when he wasn’t checking on seniors and other vulnerable people or singing at funerals.
By the age of 11, he was regularly pulling on his suit and tie and singing at the funerals of people in the Scooba community and beyond. He says he remembers being eight years old and picking up trash in the street, as well as asking about and visiting seniors who couldn’t get out much.
“It’s something that just seems to be inside me – a part of my heart,” said Nave, who now serves as the mayor of Scooba. “It’s hard to say where it really comes from – it was just always there. I always wanted to make other people happy and I always wanted to do what I could to help them to smile and to be OK.”
These days, Nave still sings regularly at funerals, and he hopes that his work as mayor of Scooba also helps people to smile – or at least feel a bit more optimistic about the community where they live.
He said that the town has recently made big gains in the availability of local youth recreation, providing opportunities for youth to play youth basketball and baseball. The program has been so strong that people have come from other towns, inof Meridian, to play.
He said that providing sports for kids might seem like a simple and even superficial act – but that the benefits can run quite deep.
“We have never had these kinds of opportunities before,” he said. “And because we are doing this, people are coming together. You have parents and aunts and uncles and grandmas all coming together. People of different races and backgrounds and income levels are all having a good time together and cheering for their children. That is big and it’s part of what happens in places that are thriving.”
Nave said that in the coming year, he hopes to oversee more efforts to clean the town up.
“Beautifying our town and cleaning it up is really important,” he said. “We need to address cleaning up abandoned buildings and abandoned areas. It’s difficult because you get into challenges with the cost of clean-up and also in dealing with private property owners. But I would like to see it get done. Thriving towns are towns that are clean and beautiful.”
The 2009 Kemper County High School graduate said he thinks that as the town is beautified, there will be more opportunities for economic development.
“If we have more beautification, I hope we can bring in more businesses,” he said. “It will make more people want to visit and to locate here. We have a lot to offer here. We have a low crime rate and we have good, caring people who care about each other. We have people willing to work hard. We need to be able to build on those strengths and it starts with beautification.”
Nave has served as mayor since 2019 and previously served on the Scooba Board of Aldermen for two years. He is just beginning his first full term as mayor and did not have an opponent in his recent election.
He said that one of the biggest challenges in improving Scooba is finding the money needed.
“By the time we meet payroll there is only so much that we can do without more state or federal funding,” Nave said. “But we are dedicated to doing the best we can with what we have.”
When he isn’t handling his mayoral responsibilities, he can be found working in customer service at East Mississippi Electric Power Association. He has a bachelor’s degree in business from Mississippi State and previously worked in customer service in banking.
“Wherever I go, I find myself working with people,” he said. “I just really enjoy serving and helping others.”
He also can be found riding his bike throughout the area. He said he enjoys cycling and that it helps him to fight stress. He also is hoping that the intense cardio helps him to ward off health issues as he ages.
“You know, in the south a lot of us have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease – that kind of thing,” he said. “I want to try to do what I can to stay healthy.”
He admits that he could stand to make a few more tweaks in his diet, but he only drinks water – or the occasional sweet tea.
“I’d say I eat good at least three or four days of the week,” he said, laughing. “So, I guess it could be better but I also could do worse.”
Nave also relishes watching his 8-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter in youth sports and school activities. He also enjoys spending time with his four Chow dogs.
Nave said that the community could help to contribute to Scooba’s growth by focusing on connecting with others and also doing their part to keep the community clean.
“First, I think we need people to be more tolerant of one another,” he said. “I think we have this idea that people here are so different and maybe divided. But really, we are far more alike than we are different. When people can come together, they see that we are alike and have a lot of the same goals and desires.”
He said he also would like to see people littering less.
“It’s such a small gesture,” he said. “But if everyone stopped littering and focused instead on keeping the area clean, that would do a lot of good for everyone. Sometimes, change can happen in really small, simple ways.”
Nave said he also would like to see more people get involved in leadership in the community, instead of just watching things happen passively.
“We need more people in all of Kemper County – not just Scooba – who are involved in politics and involved in making the community better. A lot of people like to talk about what they want the town or the county to do – how they think it should be – but we need people really getting involved and working and giving of themselves to make things happen. We can do so much if we work together and are willing to work for what we want to see happen.”