Natchez, paradise share similarities

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Condos are coming, the hospital has some financial woes, the town lacks affordable housing and the schools are struggling.

Sound like home? The description fits Natchez, but this time, it&8217;s not.

Trade the muddy Mississippi waters for crystal clear, swim-able seas, and you&8217;ve got it.

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Sixty-three two-bedroom condominiums are on the market for $340,000 each.

The condos will be a part of a 42-story tower, and there are restrictions on who can buy. Owners must be area residents who have lived there for three years or more, they can&8217;t currently own a house and they must make less than $94,850.

Oh, and the whole deal is considered well below market prices.

Are these the condos on the bluff? Nope, the view from the high-rise windows doesn&8217;t include blue enough skies.

The public hospital in town has faced several years of revenue shortfalls. The pessimistic saw it coming, but a Nov. 15 announcement was still more of a shock than the community could stomach.

The doors are closing.

Rising operating costs, revenue shortfalls and a $3 million debt did them in.

Is this a little foreshadowing for Natchez? Unlikely, our hospital has a different market, not enough surfing accidents in the Miss-Lou.

The city needs &8220;transitional&8221; housing. It has the homeless and the wealthy, but not much falls in between.

The city wants to correct the problem, and has identified 12 potential sites for development. The city will give away &8212; or perhaps sell for a low dollar &8212; quality land for housing development.

Natchez has talk of new housing, new subdivisions. But the type of developers doing work here probably don&8217;t have much experience building on sand.

All public schools are being questioned about how they spend their money. The state wants to see more administrative training and more accountability among staff.

The school&8217;s mascot isn&8217;t the Bulldogs, though, instead try the Surfriders.

Got it figured out yet?

Firmly plant your beach umbrella into the sand, stretch out the portable chaise lounge, order the beach cocktail of your choice, lay back and crack open the newspaper, not The Democrat.

The Honolulu Advertiser.

Yes, the headlines in paradise are the same as they are here in little ole Natchez.

This was local justice court Judge Charlie Vess&8217; observation anyway, and I agree.

Vess and a group of Mississippi judges recently traveled to Hawaii for an event. Vess was intrigued by the newspaper and was kind enough to bring me several copies and a column idea.

The Honolulu Advertiser is a happy paper. A red hibiscus flower graces the top of the front page and the top of the sports, business and classifieds sections.

Oh, and section E in the newspaper has a name sure to wipe away the stress of the mainland world with a mere read &8212; Island Life.

But just like anywhere else, paradise has its troubles.

Throw in a few headlines The Natchez Democrat will never print &8212; &8220;Tsunami pays brief visit to Islands&8221; and &8220;New problems for quake-struck observatory&8221; &8212; and paradise doesn&8217;t look so happy at all.

Though it was 83 degrees in Honolulu Tuesday, a few newspaper headlines from what seems like a world away can offer us perspective on our own situations.

We aren&8217;t alone. Our headlines could be anyone&8217;s headlines, good or bad.

Julie Finley

is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or