Caller offers ‘healing’ idea, building name

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 31, 2000

Telephone calls pour into newspapers like gravel out of a dump truck. And occasionally, tucked beneath the complaint calls, wrong numbers, advice and other common gravel, are some real gems.

One of those gems reached my desk the other day.

&uot;It’s time for the healing to begin,&uot; the caller said.

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I — as usual –was lost.

In a few short sentences, the caller – who wanted to remain anonymous – spelled out a plan that may help our community get past some of the animosity left in the wake of the recent municipal election.

&uot;What’s the name of the new community center on Franklin Street?&uot; the caller asked.

Fumbling through my feeble mental Rolodex, I plucked out a few names.

Natchez City Center.

Natchez Community Center.

The old Service Motor Company Building.

Finally, I admitted my ignorance.

&uot;Actually, I’m not sure exactly what it’s supposed to be called,&uot; I said.

Delight oozed from the other end of the telephone.

&uot;Exactly my point,&uot; the caller said. &uot;Nobody knows what to call it, so why don’t we give it an official name.&uot;

I grunted in agreement.

&uot;Let’s name it in honor of Butch (former Natchez mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown)&uot; the caller said.

Perhaps at this point I should add that the caller was hardly a Brown supporter, in fact the person has long been one of Brown’s biggest, most vocal critics.

Nonetheless the caller was able to separate his personal feelings for Brown long enough to realize how effective Brown was at getting things changed in Natchez.

The caller admitted that Brown almost single-handedly fought to bring millions of federal dollars into Natchez.

Those funds helped do such things as stabilizing the crumbling bluffs which our city rests upon and transforming several LUMPs, or Large Unused Municipal Properties, into usable buildings all over town.

The community center — or whatever it’s called — became a reality after Brown and the Natchez Board of Aldermen saw the need for such a structure after the city sold the old convention center to the school district.

The sale left the city without a medium-sized place for public get-togethers.

As the caller said, Brown and the aldermen were always good at making the best of what they had.

And that’s how the community center was born. Someone in the previous city administration realized the need and saw the solution in the rough, unused Service Motor Company building.

Months later, it became a reality.

The building was christened by a great Natchez tradition — the annual Natchez Literary Celebration.

The significance of the new building and Brown’s work on it weren’t lost on the anonymous caller.

Does the name begin to pay the ex-mayor back for his work in office?

Probably not, but as the caller said, &uot;He deserves at least that.&uot;

Will the idea please everyone?

Certainly not.

As anyone who saw the results of the election can see, the community was split on the popularity of Brown.

Will the idea float with the public?

Only time will tell.

But the caller has managed to get the idea out there for now.

And the telephones at the newspaper keep on ringing.

Kevin Cooper is managing editor of The Democrat. He can be reached at (601) 445-3541 or by e-mail at