City to assist with grant for Margaret Martin renovation

Published 12:45 am Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NATCHEZ — Old Margaret Martin may soon be getting a facelift — or at least a little Botox.

Natchez Festival of Music organizers now have the go ahead from the city to apply for a grant to repair and revamp the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center on Homochitto Street.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen agreed at Tuesday’s regular meeting to assist in providing matching funds needed for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History grant.

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The grant requires a 20-percent match.

Natchez City Planner Bob Nix said $3,750 has been raised so far by the Opera Festival Board and Music Festival Guild.

He said the organizations are still working to raise money before the grant’s deadline on Oct. 7.

The board approved a motion by Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce made a motion for the city to contribute a minimum of $5,000 for the grant. Nix said with the current money raised and the city’s match to those funds, the festival could get a $37,500 grant.

Nix said he was informed Tuesday that additional monies had been raised, although he wasn’t sure of the amount. Nix said for an additional $100 the costs of repairing the building’s roof, repairing and replacing exterior windows and installing lighting for the front exterior of the building could be covered by the grant.

Nix said his staff visited the building and found it is in need of approximately $500,000 in repairs.

In other news from the meeting:

-The board went into an executive session for approximately 45 minutes during the finance meeting to discuss a personnel matter put on the agenda by Ward 2 Alderman James “Rickey” Gray.

-Peter Bland and Oliver Seyfarth asked the board to support the Wreaths Across America program that coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies on the second Saturday in December at national cemeteries. Seyfarth said of the three national cemeteries in Mississippi, Natchez National Cemetery is the only one participating in the program this year.

Seyfarth said each wreath is $15, and the deadline for the wreath orders is Thanksgiving. For more information on Wreaths Across America or to order a wreath, visit or call Seyfarth at 807-1576 or Bland at 442-0040.

-Residents from the Etania Subdivision came before the board during the finance committee session to voice complaints about upkeep of a residence at 3600 Peachtree Drive.

Tim Gay said there are eight cars and two boats in the yard at the house, as well as air conditioning units from the resident’s business and other debris. Judy Strickland said the resident is her immediate neighbor and she believed he is operating a kennel. She said the number of dogs at the residence is causing a foul odor and a flea and fly problem in her yard and house.

Nix said his staff has visited the residence several times and found items in the resident’s garage to be in violation of city codes.

Code enforcement officer Willie B. Jones said he observed work materials in one of the resident’s boats Tuesday and gave the owner 72 hours to remove them. He said he saw seven dogs at the residence.

The mayor said the board and Nix would look into the code and city ordinance violations.

“I don’t think anyone should have to tolerate that,” Middleton said.

-The board approved a motion to apply in conjunction with the Adams County Board of Supervisors to the Mississippi Department of Transportation for transportation enhancement money to purchase the remaining privately-owned land at Forks of the Road at the request of Ser Sesh Ab-Heter C.M. Boxley. The motion was approved pending the approval of the private landowners.

-Dr. David Timm appeared before the board to voice his concerns over the reasons behind the opening of the school-based clinic at Robert Lewis Middle School and the quality of care students are receiving at the clinic.

-The board authorized the mayor to continue the interlocal agreement with Adams County to provide fire protection for the county given an additional $50,000 to be paid to the city for the fire protection.