City seeks input on guide book

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 28, 1999

Charlie Schultz has been behind the reins of one of Natchez’s touring horse buggies for the last decade. He has a story for just about every building, and said he got his education in Natchez simply by talking to people and reading about the city’s history. &uot;You learn things from talking to people,&uot; he said.

Schultz, who gets his passengers through a few lulls in the tour by whistling in time with the horse’s hooves, said he also spent a great deal of time reading books from the city’s gift shops.

Other guides in Natchez have learned about the city’s history through training by the Natchez and Pligrimage garden clubs or through a course taught by the Historic Natchez Foundation.

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Now city tourism officials are looking for public input on a new tour guide training manual developed by a committee of community members.

Described by committee member Mimi Miller as &uot;a work in progress,&uot; the manual will become part reference document, part tour guide curriculum.

&uot;The tourism ordinance requires that tour guides are trained and have a tour guide permit,&uot; said Shirley Wheatley of the Natchez Office of Tourism Management.

&uot;It’s something that’s been needed for a long time,&uot; Miller said.

The manual will eventually be used in a tour guiding course. City officials are hoping to work out a schedule so that the course can be taught at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

Once the course is in place, new tour guides will have to pass a test based on the new manual. But anyone who is already a tour guide with previous training is grandfathered; they will not be required to take the new test.

Guides required to be certified are those who tour throughout the city’s historic districts, such as motorcoach guides, carriage guides and walking tour guides. Hostesses during Pilgrimage are not required to take the test.

Wheatley said the city asked &uot;the academic heavyweights&uot; in Natchez to design the new manual.

&uot;We drew from a wealth of resources,&uot;&160;she said.

For example, Jim Barnett of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History prepared a section on the Natchez Indians, and Janice Turnage of the Natchez National Historical Park drafted a section on interpretation of historic sites.

Wheatley said she hopes committee members who contributed might be able to help teach the Co-Lin course once it is in place.

The manual is meant to be a resource guide, Miller said.

The manual and the course might also appeal to those people who just want to learn more about Natchez’s history, Wheatley said.

And she hopes if they’re interested in the history, they might be interested in becoming guides as well.