City, county submit proposal to join river alliance

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 7, 2000

Natchez and Adams County have completed a detailed proposal to join the Lower Mississippi American Heritage River Alliance, a federal alliance officials hope can encourage aid to economically depressed areas of the lower delta.

The Lower Mississippi alliance is part of President Clinton’s American Heritage River Initiative, a controversial initiative to bring special recognition to 14 of the nation’s rivers.

Natchez Community Development Coordinator James Johnston said the next step in the process would be acceptance by the lower Mississippi alliance, but he isn’t sure when that might happen.

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The city’s detailed proposal to join the alliance includes a brief history of the city’s relationship to the river; the historical significance of the city and county; and a list of accomplishments in economic revitalization, cultural preservation and natural resources and environmental protection.

A 16-member &uot;blue-ribbon panel&uot; of city and county leaders also studied the value of joining the river alliance, Johnston said. The panel helped develop the proposal for inclusion to the alliance.

Natchez Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown said the Lower Mississippi alliance isn’t the only attention being paid to the delta region. In May, he will attend a Washington D.C. meeting of the Lower Mississippi Delta Initiative, an alliance of 10 federal agencies and local and state governments. The May 10-11 national conference is titled &uot;Delta Vision, Delta Voices: Mississippi Delta Beyond 2000.&uot;

Brown said Natchez and Adams County are an example of how a community can use federal funds from different sources to accomplish projects. &uot;We’re being featured (at the meeting). They’ve recognized what we’ve been able to do,&uot; he said, citing the city’s use of federal and state funds to tackle projects such as bluff stabilization.

Brown said the example set by Natchez may also help other communities in the lower delta get funding.

Brown said the lower delta initiative is an outgrowth the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Commission, which was established Oct. 1, 1988.

Then governor of Arkansas, Clinton was chosen to chair the commission, which was charged with developing a 10-year economic plan for the Lower Mississippi Delta region, which encompasses 219 counties and parishes in seven states.