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Help comes from unlikely mediator in fire standoff

Sometimes solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems come from the most unlikely of places.

The federal government learned this fact decades ago when they wound up having to nab gangster Al Capone by going after him with an accountant. Eventually, Capone’s failure to pay taxes put him behind bars.

An equally unlikely savior came to the table this week in Natchez.

City and county leaders had been at odds for more than a week over the future of the city-county fire protection agreement.

By now most residents know the drill — their disputes had become almost an annual occurrence as each entity locked in their budgets for the new fiscal year.

City of Natchez leaders wanted more money from the county. The county wanted more fire protection for their money.

That’s where the issue has pretty much sat for several years. Each side would get frustrated. Then eventually both sides would acquiesce, leaving things untouched until the next year.

This year, however, when both sides appeared unwilling to keep things status quo again, unfortunately, things looked deadlocked.

The issue was headed toward the creation of yet another system to divide our community rather than combine forces together.

Fortunately on Friday an unlikely group stepped forward to help — Natchez Inc.

The group’s mission is to recruit, retain and expand businesses in Natchez and Adams County.

Nowhere does it claim to be fire protection experts or mediators between city and county governments.

But fortunately the leaders of Natchez Inc. understand that not having adequate fire protection for businesses and industry — even if only temporarily — is a big no-no.

In addition, trying to convince an industry to come to an area in which it appears the government doesn’t play well together, particularly over the basics like fire protection, is difficult.

At the end of Friday’s meeting of the minds, both city and county government leaders seemed convinced their combined plans to work together were solid.

A big “thank you” goes to Natchez Inc. for facilitating the discussion.

Such leadership is exactly what’s great about the structure of Natchez Inc. in the first place.

Its seven-member board has five members representing the private sector and only two members appointed by government.

The Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce and the Natchez Business and Civic League each appoint one member to the board. The other three private sector board representatives come from the Natchez Now organization. Natchez Now is a private funding arm of Natchez Inc.

It’s made up of dozens of local businesses that want to be involved and invest in our community’s future.

Natchez Now is seeking new members right now so the good work of Natchez Inc. can continue for years to come.

If you or your business hasn’t joined Natchez Now, please consider doing so. As last week’s simple, but important step in ensuring quality fire protection for our community showed, an investment in Natchez Now, and subsequently Natchez Inc., is a smart investment for all local residents and businesses. To find out more about Natchez Now, please e-mail natcheznow@gmail.com, call the Natchez Inc. office at 601-445-0288 or drop me a line.

Solutions may come from unlikely sources, but usually people just like you are behind the scenes supporting the solution.

 

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.

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