Mayors, other local officials talk about their goals, hopes for 2004

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 14, 2004

While bringing more jobs to the Miss-Lou is first on their list, city, county and parish officials have a variety of goals they’d like to reach in 2004.

In Natchez and Adams County, all those who could be reached this week said local governments and the Economic Development Authority have several prospects they’re already talking to about locating here.

Incentive packages already have been offered to prospects that could bring a total of 200 to 250 jobs if they are all landed, said Adams County supervisors Vice President Darryl Grennell.

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&uot;There have been some stumbling blocks recently, but hopefully we can clear those up and close the deal really soon,&uot; said Supervisor Henry Watts. In fact, many said those deals could come to fruition in 2004.

&uot;If we got jobs in this town, we could do anything else we set our minds to,&uot; said Supervisor S.E. &uot;Spanky&uot; Felter.

&uot;We’ve got prospects to look at Adams County &045; now we’ve got to follow through with them and try to create more (job leads) in the meantime.&uot;

That and other projects are going to take cooperation among government and economic development agencies, many said.

While the city and county have agreed to let the EDA take the lead in landing prospects,

&uot;we have to work together to preserve more jobs for the citizens,&uot; said Supervisor Thomas &uot;Boo&uot; Campbell. &uot;I realize that’s (the task of) the EDA, but we must get a little more involved.&uot;

That also will take working with state agencies.

Alderman Ricky Gray, who attended Gov.-elect Haley Barbour’s Job Summit in Jackson just a few weeks ago, said officials there told him getting jobs for Natchez &uot;is number one on their list.

&uot;We need to keep in touch with the newly elected governor to make sure that happens,&uot; he said.

In addition, Watts said he plans to ask the full Board of Supervisors to pursue Renewal Community status from the federal government for the entire county.

Right now, only certain parts of the county qualify as an RC, a designation that brings with it certain tax exemptions for industries.

With regards to specific projects, Natchez Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith said he hopes to see the successful resolution of talks with developer Charles Cato take place this year.

Cato, president of Emerald Star Casino and Resort, has said he hopes to bring a riverfront casino, convention hotel and related facilities to Roth Hill.

&uot;There are still a couple of sticking points, but I’d at least like to see negotiations completed in 2004,&uot; Smith said.

In addition, some said they would like to see more progress made toward a countywide recreation program that would serve local residents but also help bring in out-of-town visitors to boost the economy.

&uot;I would like to get to the point that it can be put to the voters. To do that, (the Recreation Commission) must determine what the cost will be,&uot; Smith said.

Smith said he would like to see a proposed recreation program include &uot;something for everybody,&uot; including a swimming pool, equestrian facilities and some neighborhood parks.

In addition, he said, &uot;If we had at least four or eight more tennis courts, we could host some of these larger tournaments.

&uot;Horse shows are huge, and that’s a very expensive hobby. And youth baseball, softball and soccer bring in a lot of people&uot; to spend money, he said.

Grennell said he would like to see at least a public swimming pool established this year.

As far as county funding for the countywide recreation program is concerned, Grennell said the Board of Supervisors was waiting to take a vote on the issue until after the new supervisors came on board.

The new supervisors, Watts and Felter, were sworn in earlier this week and will join in their first board meeting Monday.

In Vidalia, Mayor Hyram Copeland also said a &uot;major objective&uot; is to build a new recreational complex in Vidalia.

Other than that, Copeland said he wants to see Vidalia grow from the projects it is working on now.

&uot;We’ve had a very excellent year,&uot; Copeland said Wednesday. &uot;Next year, we want to continue to work on our riverfront project and recruit new businesses and industry and improve quality of life in our area.&uot;

In Ferriday the main goal for 2004 was summed up in one word &045; water.

Both Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin and alderwoman Dorothy Johnson said they will work to get good water to Ferriday residents.

&uot;Folks in this town deserve good water,&uot; McGlothin said.

Already using grants last year for new water lines, Ferriday hopes to connect with Concordia Water Works.