Lawmakers still pushing local bills

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2000

Adams County legislators admit a tight state budget could make it more difficult to get millions of dollars for local projects — but that isn’t stopping them from trying.

Sen. Bob Dearing, D-Natchez, plans to file a bill by later this month asking for $3.5 million bond issue to improve the Duncan Park Golf Course. A companion bill to make the course a satellite of the Natchez State Park will be considered Monday by the Senate.

And Rep. Andrew Ketchings, R-Natchez, will meet this week with the House Ways and Means chairman about the chances of getting the committee to pass a bill asking for $8 million to get 80 acres of right-of-way land needed to complete the Natchez Trace.

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&uot;Getting bond bills passed this year will be tough,&uot;&160;Ketchings said. &uot;Still, although ($8 million) is a large amount of money, it’s not a lot in the great scheme of things.&uot;

Dearing, Natchez Mayor Larry &uot;Butch&uot; Brown, Duncan Park Golf Course Manager Marvin Gray, state parks Director Latrell Ashley and other officials met with Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck last week to brief her on the proposed improvements to the Duncan Park course. Brown called the meeting &uot;very positive.&uot;

Improvements could start next year if funds are approved, Gray said. They would include remodeling and lengthening some holes on the course; installing new greens and tees, a new irrigation system and a new practice putting green; and building a new clubhouse, cart storage and maintenance shop.

If approved, the revamped course would be called the Natchez State Park Golf Course at Duncan Park.

&uot;It would appeal to a broader range of golfers,&uot;&160;Gray said. &uot;It would attract tourists and retirees and could attract industry because it would improve quality of life.&uot;

A master plan of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks already includes the construction of a golf course at Natchez State Park. But improving the existing course at Duncan Park and making it a satellite location of the state park would save the state about $9 million, mainly because less infrastructure would have to be built, Dearing said.

The city would maintain the course, Brown said. &uot;And (the course)&160;would be self-supporting,&uot;&160;Gray added.

As far as Natchez Trace construction is concerned, a bill has already been passed approving the extension of the parkway, Dearing said. But about 80 acres of rights-of-way from St. Catherine Creek to Liberty Road are needed for that work to be done, so area lawmakers are asking for $8 million to buy the land.

The rights-of-way will help complete the parkway four miles past U.S. 84/98 with an interchange at Liberty Road. The parkway now ends just outside the city limits. Eventually, city officials hope to end the Trace at the bluffs near the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

Staff writer Kerry Whipple contributed to this report.