Trails project takes steps toward goal

Published 11:40 am Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Natchez Trail Project’s effort to raise funds to complete the network of walking trails in Natchez is gathering momentum.

“We are well on our way to securing the funds to make this project a reality,” project committee member John Holyoak reported at Wednesday’s meeting of the Community Alliance.

Holyoak said the Trails Project has raised $75,000, and has obtained another $75,000 in pledges. In addition, Holyoak said substantial donations are being sought from other corporate foundations.

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The Natchez Trails Project is attempting to raise nearly $500,000 to match grants from the Mississippi Department of Transportation, and the Lower Mississippi Delta Initiative.

In other reports, Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Jenkins said President Bush’s proposed budget for 2008 would make $100 million a year available to national parks for 10 years through a series of matching grants. The proposed Centennial Challenge Grants program would celebrate the 2016 centennial of the creation of the National Park Service.

Though the budget has yet to be passed by Congress, Jenkins urged Community Alliance members and the public to begin thinking of potential projects to improve and interpret the history of the people of Natchez.

“Think big,” Jenkins said. “Anything that is an interpretive project that fulfills the mission of the Natchez National Historical Park could be put forth by this park to obtain grants of $50,000 or more.”

Community Alliance Secretary Darlene Jones announced that on April 28, the Keep Natchez and Adams County Beautiful organization would participate in the Great American Cleanup by organizing a community cleanup of St. Catherine Street. The area to be cleaned would extend from the red light by the Forks of the Road, to Martin Luther King Jr. Street.

Jones said the effort will consist of picking up trash, mowing and trimming weeds and grass on public spaces and planting flowers. Jones asked alliance members to publicize the event, and she issued a call for the public to loan lawn mowers and weed trimmers to the effort. The Mayors Youth Council has been instrumental in designating St. Catherine Street as the target area to be cleaned, Jones said.

Helen Brooks, interim marketing coordinator of the Natchez Farmers Market, announced the Market is trying to recruit vendors, and is seeking volunteers for the upcoming Blueberry Bake off, tentatively scheduled for May 26, or June 9.

The Community Alliance is a charitable organization with tax-exempt 501(c)3 status. The group serves as the umbrella organization under which designated groups may solicit tax-exempt donations to fund projects that enhance business and community development.

The Community Alliance meets on the last Wednesday of the month at 4:30 p.m. in the Vicksburg Room of the Natchez Convention Center. All citizens are invited to attend.