City seeking tricentennial planning manager

Published 12:11 am Saturday, May 11, 2013

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez will soon be seeking a full-time manager to take over planning the city’s 365-day tricentennial celebration in 2016.

Mayor Butch Brown said Mike Gemmell, who was chair of the tricentennial committee, has stepped back into an advisory position, recommending that the city find a full-time event manager to plan the celebration.

Gemmell said after working every day for nine months as a volunteer coordinating planning for tricentennial, he realized that it is too big of a job for volunteers.

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“This has never been done before, not in the history of American cities has something of this magnitude been done,” he said. “We’ve had tricentennials, but not one with events almost every day of the year.”

The tricentennial celebration, Gemmell said, does not need an event planner or marketer to head up the planning efforts.

“It needs a manager,” he said. “Someone who has the skills and contacts to take these volunteers’ events and ideas and make them happen.”

The tricentennial committee currently has 12 teams that are in charge of categories focusing on different aspects of the celebration.

But the celebration needs full-time attention, Gemmell said.

“It’s too important to be left in the hands of volunteers, well-meaning and dedicated volunteers, but it needs someone who wakes up every day and dedicates the next two and a half years of his or her life to this,” he said.

The 365-day celebration for 2016 is a very ambitious project, Gemmell said.

Gemmell said he believes the foundation has been laid by the tricentennial committee for the yearlong celebration.

“The cement has been poured, now the building begins, but we need some outside help,” he said.

Brown said Stratton Bull would serve as acting chair of the tricentennial committee until the city can find an event manager.

The manager will be a full-time paid position, Brown said, but he does not know the specifics of what will be advertised.

“We haven’t gotten quite that far, since the decision was just made this week,” Brown said.

Responsibilities of the manager, Brown said, will include implementing the committee’s ideas, monitoring corporate sponsorships, getting media coverage for the celebration and other duties.

Brown said he agrees that full-time attention is needed to ensure the tricentennial celebration is a success.

“It’s a major, major project,” he said “And Mike feels like it’s time we got someone to take over, and I agree with him.”