NLCC kicks off campaign for NEH matching grant

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Special to The Democrat

A campaign to raise $100,000 over the next two years in order to receive a $100,000 Matching Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities was kicked off this week by leaders of the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration.

&uot;We are very encouraged by many civic-minded people who have agreed to serve on the Fundraising Committee,&uot; said Carolyn Vance Smith of Copiah-Lincoln Community College, founder and co-chairman of the NLCC. &uot;We think raising the matching money will be a challenge, but it is do-able.&uot;

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The money will be used to establish an endowment for the conference, Smith said. &uot;Proceeds from the endowment will assure that the event will live in perpetuity. We are delighted to have this national stamp of approval from the NEH.&uot;

The NLCC, celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, will present a multi-faceted program Feb. 25-29 at the Natchez Convention Center and on Copiah-Lincoln’s Natchez campus.

The conference theme is &uot;Scoundrels to Statesmen: Politics in the Deep South.&uot; Several dozen nationally known scholars, historians and film experts will gather to share their knowledge with hundreds of people.

Co-chairmen and sponsors with Smith and Copiah-Lincoln are Keith Whisenant, the Natchez National Historical Park; Jim Barnett, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; and Marie Antoon, Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

&uot;We have until July 31, 2004, to raise the first $30,000 of the Matching Grant,&uot; Smith said. The next level of $40,000 must be raised by July 31, 2005, with the remaining amount due by July 31, 2006.

&uot;If we don’t raise the required amount by each deadline, we lose it,&uot; Smith said. &uot;Some people already know this, and donations are coming in.&uot;

One fundraiser will take place during the 2004 Celebration, Smith said. &uot;We hope to raise quite a bit of money from a benefit reception and dinner at Gloucester, the historic mansion that is the home of Gwen and John Deakle,&uot; she said. &uot;Gloucester has recently been restored and is absolutely gorgeous.&uot;

This party, to honor 2004 NLCC award winners and speakers, is set for 8 p.m., Feb. 28, following a free awards ceremony at the Natchez Convention Center at 6:30 p.m.

Winning awards at the ceremony are Natchez novelist Greg Iles, University of Southern Mississippi historian William Scarborough and film script writer Gail Gilchriest of Los Angeles.

Tickets to the Gloucester event are limited. They cost $125 each, with $100 tax-deductible, Smith said. &uot;Tickets may be ordered by calling 601-446-1289 or toll-free 866-296-6522,&uot; she said.

Another fund-raiser during the upcoming NLCC is a raffle of major items, all donated by area merchants and individuals.

Among the raffle packages are a Natchez Balloon Race weekend, a Natchez Pilgrimage weekend, a &uot;Memories&uot; package that includes a sitting by Natchez photographer T.G. McCary, a Gone With the Wind package and a great books package.

&uot;Raffle tickets are only $10 each,&uot; said project chairman Shirley Petkovsek of Natchez. &uot;We hope people love the raffle packages and buy lots of tickets.&uot;

Yet another major fundraiser is a trip on the Mississippi River called &uot;Literature, Lore and Lyrics on the Mighty Mississippi.&uot; To take place April 6-13, this trip begins in New Orleans and ends in Memphis onboard the spacious and comfortable RiverBarge Excursion Lines River Explorer.

&uot;Take three things the South is most famous for &045; music, literature and story-telling &045; and add the Mississippi River, great food and abundant hospitality, and you’ve got a trip to remember,&uot; Smith said.

&uot;Some of the country’s most respected writers, filmmakers, musicians, historians, story tellers, critics and chefs will be on board the River Explorer to share with the rest of us what they know best,&uot; she said.

Prices start at $2,526 per person, Smith said. &uot;This price pays for everything, including tips, shore trips, tickets, buses, guides, programs, films and round-the-clock great food and service.

&uot;We have room for only 160 people,&uot; she said. &uot;This is a trip of a lifetime.&uot;

Working with Smith and heading the overall Fund-raising Committee is Maria Bowser of Natchez, a retired community college administrator in Los Angeles. Sharing fund-raising leadership are several people, each in charge of certain areas:

4Howell Garner, president of Co-Lin, special grants


Todd Carpenter

, president of Natchez Newspapers Inc. and publisher of The Natchez Democrat, corporate gifts

4F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith III, mayor of Natchez; Darryl Grennell, president of the Adams County Board of Supervisors; Robert M. Dearing, state senator from Adams County; and Phillip West, member of the House of Representatives from Adams County, governmental funding

4Shirley Petkovsek of Callon Petroleum Co., a raffle during the NLCC and a live auction later this year

4Margaret and Tom Weed of Natchez, the medical community

4Philip E. Carby of Natchez, the legal community


Todd Carpenter

is taking the lead on corporate gifts,&uot; Bowser said. &uot;Natchez Newspapers Inc. has pledged $5,000 per year for three years. Todd will challenge other businesses in the area to match or top that pledge.&uot;

In other action, Dearing has introduced Senate Bill SB 2471, an appropriation bill that is co-sponsored by Sen. Lynn Posey, Union Church; Sen. Kelvin Butler, Magnolia; Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Brookhaven; and Sen. Perry Lee, Mendenhall.

&uot;Rep. Phillip West is very supportive, also,&uot; Smith said. &uot;He guaranteed he will help push this bill through when it arrives in the House of Representatives.&uot;

Donations from individuals are sought, and all are tax-deductible, Smith said. &uot;People can send checks to the NLCC Matching Grant, P.O. Box 1307, Natchez, MS 39121. We are excited about this project and look forward to a successful campaign,&uot; she said.