Archeologist clears way for project

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 8, 2001

NATCHEZ – National Park Service archeologists have recommended that 7.3 acres of the 46.6-acre &uot;beanfield&uot; site just north of Natchez High School be excluded from a planned recreational complex.

&uot;(But) I find no archeological objection to the lease of the majority of the field,&uot; archeologist Jill Halchin said in her report.

The 7.3-acre section of the beanfield is believed to have been the site of a French settlement in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

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For several weeks in August and October, archeologists searched for artifacts, mapped the site and conducted soil tests. More than 5,000 items were recovered from the site, including ceramic pieces and remnants of walls, according to the archeologists’ report.

&uot;Although it is not possible at this time to confirm occupation of the site by the French – and indeed this may never be possible – this is a resource of a magnitude rare in Natchez archeology,&uot; the study stated.

The archeological team is still working on a final report that will give more details of findings at the 7.3-acre site.

&uot;Resolution of this (study) is a major step&uot; toward getting a recreation complex built, said Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith, who received a copy of the archeologists’ study earlier this week.

&uot;I’m very pleased&uot; with the study’s results, said Alderman Jake Middleton, chairman of the Board of Aldermen’s Recreation Committee. &uot;Now it’s time for us to move on with this project.&uot;

Darryl Grennell, Adams County Board of Supervisors vice president, agreed that it is now time to start planning the facility in earnest.

&uot;We need to move forward so we can get this proposal on the (November) ballot,&uot; Grennell said.

Now that the report has been completed, Smith said he hopes local officials associated with the project could meet next week.

At that meeting, representatives of the Board of Aldermen, the Board of Supervisors and Natchez-Adams County School Board would work to finalize an agreement to jointly operate a countywide recreation program, Smith said.

City Attorney Walter Brown presented a rough draft of the agreement at the group’s last meeting in late August.

Under the rough draft, the presidents of the three boards and two other members from each board would serve on a recreation council. The council would begin meeting within 30 days after the three boards approve the agreement.