Natchez invited to state bicentennial

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 17, 2009

NATCHEZ — The Mississippi State Legislature is getting an early start on its celebration planning for the state’s bicentennial in 2017, and Natchez has been invited to the party.

“In its last session, the state legislature formulated a board of commissioners for Mississippi’s bicentennial,” Adams County Supervisor Darryl Grennell said. “And I was asked to be (a commissioner).”

Grennell said the project planning began early for commissioners because with the amount of fundraising, planning and organizing events for the celebration, 2017 isn’t that far away.

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Grennell was one of two people appointed by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to the 15-member Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration Commission.

Natchez’s history plays a major role in the history of the state and in the state’s bicentennial.

“Natchez was the first capital of Mississippi, so it is going to play a major role in this celebration,” Grennell said.

It is Grennell’s hope that commissioners will agree to kick off the year’s worth of festivities in the city that helped start it all.

“All the commissioners appear to be very positive toward Natchez,” Grennell said. “It’s one of their favorite spots in the state.”

Commissioners meet every other month and the next meeting will occur in February.

Grennell said in April commissioners will be meeting in Natchez to continue discussing plans and to view the city.

It is during this time Grennell said he hopes to showcase the city and show the commission what Natchez could accommodate during the celebration.

“We are planning on bringing several of our commission meetings here during this phase of planning,” Grennell said. “It will be an opportunity to do a brief tour with members of the commission in terms of some recent restoration projects we’ve completed.”

The commission had already started planning different aspects of the celebration.

“We’ve selected the official logo — the original and first Mississippi state flag,” Grennell said. “We have been able to obtain the original flag, and it is in need of restoration.”

The flag is currently waiting for its repairs at the Department of Archives and History.

“The estimated cost is $50,000 to get it repaired, and the plan is that once it gets repaired, it will be transferred to every county in the state to be on display (during the celebration),” Grennell said.

But in order to restore the flag, the commission needs funding.

“I’m sure we’re going to get some legislative appropriations for this, but we just don’t know how much,” Grennell said.

“But at the same time, we’re going to do fundraisers for this to earn money for the celebration.”

Since the bicentennial’s bill took effect on July 1, Mississippi taxpayers are now being given the option to donate money to the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration Fund from their tax refunds

Grennell said the committee was currently thinking of creating vehicle vanity tags or lithographs of the commemoration, but nothing has been set in stone.

“Everybody, all the commissioners, are very excited about this celebration for Mississippi. Mississippi is an extremely diverse state in terms of cultures,” Grennell said.

“And we’re hoping to incorporate all these aspects (of our culture) into the celebration.”