Middleton hosts mayors’ conference

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 4, 2008

NATCHEZ — More time has given organizers of the Preserve America Mayor’s Conference on Heritage Tourism the ability to make it even better.

The event has invited 10 to 12 mayors to Natchez and asked them to bring with them an idea of a project they would like to bring to fruition in their respective cities.

Hosted by Mayor Jake Middleton, the Tulane Regional Urban Design Center, the Historic Natchez Foundation and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the conference will bring experts to town to help the mayors organize their ideas and help make them a reality.

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Grover Mouton, director of TRUDC, said when the event was moved back from its original date in August to Nov. 19, 20 and 21, it gave him and TRUDC Project Planner Nick Jenisch time to meet with each mayor.

“We now know every project (each) mayor is going to present,” Mouton said.

With that kind of knowledge, Mouton and Jenisch have been able to tailor what the panel of experts will consist of for the mayor’s projects.

For example, Mouton said the mayor of Meridian has a project in mind that involves downtown urban landscaping.

Knowing this, Mouton was able to procure an expert on urban landscape design.

Jenisch said 12 mayors have shown a definite interest in coming and he attributes that to Middleton being the host and Natchez being the host city.

“That’s one of the main reasons the mayors agreed to come,” he said.

Mouton said 12 is a large turnout.

“That’s unheard of,” he said. “Usually we’re lucky to get six.”

Ken P’Pool, deputy state historic preservation officer with MDAH, said this is a great opportunity for a meeting of the minds.

“It’s always great to be able to interact with elected leaders,” he said. “It’s always a really good exchange and a good source of ideas and new contacts for networking.”

He said for communities to get together and plan for their futures is important, especially when it comes to tapping into historical resources the communities may have.

“If you don’t plan on using them appropriately, chances are you’ll in the very least miss out on the opportunity of making use of some of those resources,” P’Pool said.

The project Middleton plans to present during the mayors’ conference is a plan for recreation.

Not only will project planners be available to offer advice and guidance, but experts to offer advice on funding and support.