Super SuperCenter on the way?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 30, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; It would seem to be a done deal: Wal-Mart is already doing site work for its planned SuperCenter in Vidalia.

But Natchez Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis doesn&8217;t want to let those tax dollars get away from Natchez without a fight.

So she made to a motion &8212; and her fellow aldermen voted &8212; to lobby higher-ups at Wal-Mart&8217;s Arkansas headquarters to upgrade its Natchez SuperCenter even more.

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Call it a &8220;super&8221; SuperCenter.

Arceneaux-Mathis got the idea when she found out, earlier this month Wal-Mart opened an experimental SuperCenter with expanded, and more upscale, offerings in Plano, Texas.

Among those offerings, according to the Associated Press, are fine jewelry, an expanded line of upscale electronics, more than 400 organic products and wine selling for up to $500 a bottle.

It&8217;s a tall order for a small town, but Arceneaux-Mathis &8212; brandishing a list of contacts at Wal-Mart&8217;s headquarters &8212; remained undaunted.

&8220;We can&8217;t just sit here and do nothing,&8221; she said.

Also during Tuesday&8217;s aldermen meeting, Bishop Jules Anderson of the Universal Mission Church in New Orleans said he&8217;s serious about turning the old First Baptist Church building into a gym for local youth.

The first task, Anderson said, will be to determine how structurally sound the long-vacant Main Street building is and which parts can be saved.

Anderson, whose organization now owns the building, said he already walked through the building with architect Johnny Waycaster and has already begun cleaning out the building.

&8220;It&8217;s had some people living in it, and they left their things,&8221; Anderson said. Those &8220;things,&8221; in the past, have ranged from empty liquor containers to bedrolls to supper remnants.

Waycaster said it will take at least four weeks for he and Anderson to put together a proposal for the building&8217;s use and a tentative timeline for its renovation.

&8220;We&8217;re just asking you to have patience with us and to help keep people out of the building,&8221; Anderson said. &8220;As soon as you block one way, (vagrants) get into the building another way.&8221;