City, county may join river alliance

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 12, 1999

Natchez and Adams County have the opportunity to join a river alliance which city officials say could help open the door to more federal grant money for the area.

Last year, President Clinton designated 14 American Heritage rivers, including the Mississippi.

But after a Congressional fight to halt the river initiative, the state of Mississippi chose not to take part in the program.

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But Natchez and Adams County can opt in to the program through the Lower Mississippi American Heritage River Alliance, said city Community Development Coordinator James Johnston.

The American Heritage rivers designation gives communities the opportunity to receive federal assistance through refocused grants and programs. No new money has been allocated for the program.

&uot;The possibilities are almost endless,&uot; Johnston said. &uot;Everything we do is indirectly tied to the river.&uot;

&uot;It’s an opportunity for funding,&uot; said Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown.

In order to join the Lower Mississippi alliance, representatives from current member cities – New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Memphis – can recommend areas to be designated to the Council on Environmental Quality, Johnston said. The chairman of the CEQ has to approve an area’s designation.

Johnston said Natchez and Adams County need the support of Mississippi’s Congressional delegation in order to take part. He said the city has asked members of the delegation not to oppose its efforts to opt in to the alliance.

The board of aldermen has already expressed its intention to try to join the alliance. The county, however, has not made a decision, said Supervisor Virginia Salmon.

&uot;Some (supervisors) need to learn more about it,&uot; Salmon said.

&uot;If we’re a member or part of that alliance, it opens doors to federal grants,&uot; said Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown.

One project Brown hopes could get funding is riverfront development.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is already working on a bank stabilization project which would reclaim Water Street along the river.

City officials hope to turn the one-mile property into a riverside park.