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Mayor Brown pushes projects during D.C. trip

NATCHEZ — After spending the week in Washington, D.C., meeting with congressional and federal leaders, Mayor Butch Brown said he feels confident the city will secure funding for projects it has on the horizon.

Brown said he made a “hard pitch” for funding to incorporate Fort Rosalie into Natchez’s 2016 tricentennial celebration to the National Park Service.

“It looks to me like there is a firm, firm possibility of getting assistance from the National Park Service to create a legacy project in conjunction with the tricentennial,” Brown said. “I’ll be surprised if that doesn’t happen.”

NPS continues to work on a development concept for Rosalie, and Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Jenkins has said they hope to have the land developed into a park with picnic tables and historical checkpoints on the walking trails by the Natchez tricentennial in 2016.

The NPS, Brown said, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in August of 2016, and he said NPS officials indicated they are supportive of including its centennial celebration, especially Rosalie and other local NPS endeavors, in Natchez’s tricentennial celebration.

Brown also said he hopes to obtain funding for new access road to Emerald Mound, a project he said was started when he was at the Mississippi Department of Transportation but has since stalled.

Brown said he also feels good about the positive feedback he received from congressional leaders about the city’s partnership with Alcorn State and Mississippi State universities and other entities to renovate the former railroad depot downtown into a product development facility and build a farmers market.

Alcorn is receiving funding from the United States Department of Agriculture to construct a new building near the depot for a farmers market. Brown said he is lobbying for similar funding from USDA through Mississippi State’s extension program, which has expressed interest in using the depot’s demonstration kitchen for projects and other space for meetings.

“We’re asking to free up some money that’s already in USDA’s budget, we’re not asking for earmarks or anything like that,” Brown said. “We’re asking for USDA funds that are already budgeted to be used to enhance these agricultural efforts.”

Brown said he is hoping for $1-1.5 million from the USDA to help fund the project, which is estimated to cost $2-3 million. Alcorn has secured $500,000 in funds for the farmers market.

Brown traveled to the Capitol along with other local leaders and the El Camino 5-State East/West Corridor Commission to lobby for funding for the highway.

Brown said he also took the opportunity to meet with congressional leaders to discuss the projects.