Business stories of 2007

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Liberty road bridge opens

After years of orange barrels and rough roads, the Liberty Road bridge was completed in October.

The $18.5 million gateway to the city was designed to welcome motorists when they leave the Trace and head into Natchez.

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The bridge’s high arches and iron rail accents reflect the unique architecture of the city.

The bridge project also included adding decorative lighting and landscaping along Liberty Road and Seargent S. Prentiss Drive.

Southern District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown called the structure “a beautiful bridge for a beautiful city.”

UPS Goes airborne in Natchez

In February, the Natchez-Adams County Airport received a new customer with a lot of baggage.

United Parcel Service began flying packages into and out of Natchez four days a week.

The flights were added because of a need to get packages to Jackson quicker. The end result was a good one for the airport.

Fuel sales drive the airport, and the UPS plane has to fill up several times a week.

Now, UPS is a major customer at the airport, bringing money in there and in turn boosting the local economy.

Natchez Eola turns 80

A monument to Natchez’s history marked its 80th birthday in July.

The Natchez Eola Hotel celebrated the day with live music and food. Couples who were married at the hotel during its early years attended the party and members of a jazz band who played at the hotel in the 30s returned to relive the past.

Nearly a century after it first opened its doors, the hotel still stands as one of Natchez’s most treasured landmarks.

Eola catering director JoAnn Brumfield called the hotel the “heart of downtown Natchez.”

Federal courthouse opens

A historic Pearl Street building was reborn as the new federal courthouse in October. The facility, built in 1853, underwent years of renovations and is now a testament to the past and the future working together in Adams County.

State-of-the-art technology was incorporated throughout the courthouse in the renovations. The facility has monitors for the jury members, the public and the judge that attorneys can use to display evidence. The courtroom also has a teleconference system that will allow expert witnesses to testify without being present. Prior to becoming a courthouse, the building had many lives. It was once an auditorium, an opera hall, a skating rink and a public library.

Helipad opens at hospital

Dreams of faster patient care took flight for Natchez Regional Medical Center in February with the opening of a helicopter pad behind the county-owned hospital.

Funded through a grant from the Mississippi Department of Transporation, the helipad will allow patients to be flown directly from the hospital. Previously patients had to be taken by ambulance to the Natchez-Adams County Airport, a trip that took longer than the actual flight from the hospital to University Medical Center in Jackson.

“This project will save lives,” MDOT commissioner Wayne Brown said at the helipad opening.

Fat Mamas building to begin

It took two years and several court battles, but in the end David Gammill, owner of Fat Mamas Tamales, got the green light to build at their new location on Canal Street.

The Gammills started looking for a new restaurant location when the National Park Service took ownership of their log cabin as part of the Fort Rosalie site.

The city rezoned the Canal Street location in 2006 to allow for the business. Resident then appealed the city’s decision to the courts where they were turned down by the circuit court in 2006 and then Mississippi Court of Appeals in September 2007. Construction on the site began in December.

Pleasant Acre day school gets addition

The 2006 Leadership Natchez class found a way to improve the lives of a special group of Natchezians.

The volunteer group raised over $25,000 to improve the facilities at Pleasant Acre Day School. The funds were used to build an addition to the school.

In October, the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the completion of theproject valued at almost $40,000.

The facility was constructed nearly 50 years ago as an alternative school for students and was in need of more room.

The school now serves special-needs adults and depends greatly on donations to continue operations.

NDDA names Lambert director

After months without a director, the Natchez Downtown Development Association appointed Carrie Lambert to the position in September.

After interviewing roughly a dozen candidates, the NDDA chose Lambert for her combination of organizational and people skills.

Lambert, who grew up in New Orleans, moved to Natchez where her parents Stella and Rolland Golden moved after Hurricane Katrina forced them from their New Orleans residence.

“I moved here for the love of the city,” Lambert said when she took the position. “Natchez is like coming home.”

After taking the position, Lambert has helped organize many dowtown holiday events, including the Natchez Christmas Parade, downtown Halloweem Trick-or-Treating and the annual Art & Soul festival.

Health clinic opens

Jefferson County Comprehensive Health Clinic opened its doors to patients a few months before its late October ribbon cutting, but the ceremony made it official.

The clinic, at the corner of Homochitto Street and Duncan Avenue is a member of the Mississippi Primary Care Association.

Their goal is to serve the uninsured and under-insured with quality medical care, human resources and outreach services.

The federally qualified health center offers services with fees set on a sliding scale.

A federal grant covers part of the clinic’s funding. Medicare and Medicaid fund the rest of the costs.