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Brown networks in Vegas during U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting

NATCHEZ — What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, except for Natchez Mayor Butch Brown.

Brown traveled to Las Vegas last week for the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting. He was the only mayor representing Mississippi.

The conference is an official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more.

Despite Natchez’s population of a little less than 16,000, Brown said he and former mayor Tony Byrne have served as members of the conference.

Brown was invited by USCM Executive Director Tom Cochran to join the conference again after Brown was elected in July 2012.

At the conference, Brown said he networked with several officials, including Pennsylvania Congressman Bill Shuster, who is chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“He’s very keenly interested in the upper Mississippi (River) locks and dam infrastructure,” Brown said.

Brown and other river city mayors, including Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland, are promoting the river and lobbying for river infrastructure funding through the Mississippi River Cities and Town Initiative.

“When you’re asking for money, (Shuster) is always a good place to start,” Brown said.

Brown also met with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu during is trip.

“He has agreed to help us out with our tricentennial,” Brown said.

The USCM will also host, Brown said, a meeting or two in Natchez during the 2016 tricentennial celebration.

The conference passed several resolutions at the meeting in support and protest of many issues.

Resolutions passed included support for states setting their own marijuana policies without federal interference, support for transit-oriented economic development, background checks for all gun sales, offshore and onshore wind energy production and the Community Development Black Grant program.

Brown left the conference a day early, he said, to get back to Natchez for Tuesday’s board of aldermen meeting. But he said the resolution he is most concerned about is the one regarding the CDBG program.

The program, under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is a grant program that “provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs,” according to HUD’s website.

The City of Natchez routinely applies for and uses CDBG funding for neighborhood improvements.

“We really use that funding,” Brown said. “And it’s pretty much been stripped in half (in a proposal to Congress).”