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Supervisors agree to help seek funding for improvements of Emerald Mound

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors adopted Monday a resolution saying the board was willing to be part of the planning process to seek federal funds for the improvement of Emerald Mound.

The funds in question would come from the Federal Land Access Program, which is part of the Map 21 program, also known as the highway bill, local attorney Walter Brown said.

Brown — who said he presented the information about the funds to the supervisors as a citizen interested in seeing the Emerald Mound site improved and not on behalf of any committee — said the money could be used to build a more direct access road to the mound from the Natchez Trace and to redirect the county road currently used to access the area to the back side of the mound.

An application for the funds is due by Dec. 9.

While working with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, Adams County undertook a similar process in 2009 to acquire rights-of-way near the mound with the ultimate goal of donating the land to the National Park Service.

The 2008 acquisitions cost the state approximately $1.1 million, Brown said, and because the state has already invested that money in the acquisition of land around the site it’s possible the 20-percent match the federal funds required would already be satisfied and no local or state dollars would be needed.

The funds, if awarded to the project, would likely be expended through the auspices of MDOT, Brown said.

“This (money) is a special fund of only $250 million to be spread across the nation, but I think if we do this now, we will have a leg up on other projects,” he said.

Supervisor David Carter said Emerald Mound is an important piece of the area’s history that needs to be showcased, while Supervisor Calvin Butler said he would support the project if it meant improving the road for residents.

In other news:

• The board met behind closed doors to discuss the potential sale of county property.

The property in question was the approximately 480-acre tract of land — the former International Paper industrial site — the county bought from Rentech in August.

Board Attorney Scott Slover said the discussion included the possibility of selling some of the land to Natchez Railway to build a ring track around the property, as well as potential sale to a second client.

“As has been previously discussed, Natchez Railway could be constructing a ring track on the property, which would really be an improvement to the property,” Slover said. “We have also had a surprising amount of interest in the property from other parties.”

Natchez Inc. Chairwoman Sue Stedman and Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ were also part of the discussion.

• The board also met with Natchez Regional Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Donnie Rentfro and Brown — who is the attorney for the hospital’s board of trustees — in executive session.

Slover said the meeting was a routine update about the effort to sell the county-owned hospital, and no significant public comment could be given.

The meeting was behind closed doors because it included discussion of sale strategy, he said.

• The board presented Natchez-Adams County Metro Narcotics with a resolution thanking them for significant drug seizures in the past year.

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