Trails committee gets $150K

Published 11:52 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Natchez Adams County Community Alliance announced recently that the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation has awarded the Community Alliance a grant in the amount of $150,000.

“Today, we received the call from the executive director of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, Wade Overstreet,” said David Gardner, Trails Committee Chairman. “Needless to say, this is really good news and is essential to the success of our project.”

The application process for the grant began in March.

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“This was a long, intensive process, but we produced a very professional proposal that met the requirements of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation,” said Brett Brinegar, City of Natchez Grants Coordinator. Both Gardner and Brinegar credit MDOT’s Janet Sullivan for suggesting the initial request for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi become the primary supporter.

“The commitment of these funds, coupled with the participation of Natchez Regional Medical Center’s Health Quest Program, really opened the door for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation to partner with the project,” Gardner said.

Health Quest is a program that encourages citizens to begin and maintain a healthy lifestyle by incorporating a series of weigh-ins and medical tests to track individual progress. The Health Quest program has agreed to utilize the trails as a mechanism to promote healthier lifestyles for the community.

Public response to this project has been enthusiastic. The Trails project has acquired approximately $200,000. in local individual and corporate donations and will be combined with the Foundation grant money of $150,000 and a donation of $100,000 from the City of Natchez to complete the matching fund requirement.

“The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is very excited to be a part of the Natchez Trails Project,” Overstreet said.

Gardner said the Trails Executive Committee is currently in the process of selecting a consulting firm to begin the design and planning process. Once completed, construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2008, pending MDOT approval. MDOT will be the agency administering the federal funds.