Aldermen accept private donations for Forks property

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 31, 2001

Natchez alderman voted last week to accept private donations to supplement a $200,000 grant for preservation of the historic Forks of the Road property.

Earlier this month, the Mississippi Department of History and Archives awarded the City of Natchez the grant to help purchase the property from private landowners.

The land near St. Catherine Street and Liberty Road is believed to be the site of one of the South’s largest slave markets prior to the Civil War. Plans are to set up a display at the site and include it in the Underground Railroad Southern Roads to Freedom program.

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Natchez activist Ser Seshshab Heter-C.M. Boxley thanked the board of aldermen for their help in acquiring the grant, though the amount awarded was less than requested, and suggested the city help make up the difference by accepting private donations.

&uot;We want to help the city acquire that land and place it back in the public domain,&uot; he said.

Boxley said &uot;the clock is ticking,&uot; because the grant money must be obligated within a certain time period or it goes back to the state.

Deborah Oakley, department of history and archives, said the city has one year to dedicate the funds once the project is put into action by the Bureau of Building Grounds and Real Property Management, which has not yet happened.

In other business, the board:

Approved termination of a Natchez Fire Department employee for violation of the city’s drug policy. Chief Gary Winborne said he could not release the name of the employee.

City Attorney Walter Brown said the employee failed a drug test and the city has a &uot;no tolerance&uot; policy against drug use.