Leaders tout 2013 exploits

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, December 31, 2013

NATCHEZ — Local leaders say they made good on many predictions of progress they anticipated for 2013 and believe it was a successful year for the Miss-Lou.

City of Natchez

Mayor Butch Brown pledged last year that the city would make progress on the sale and reopening of Brumfield apartments, the former general hospital, street repairs, community housing efforts and recreation.

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The city sold Brumfield to New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in February, and Brown said the church is preparing to renovate the building to reopen it.

Negotiations fell through on the private sale of the general hospital this year, Brown said. When the state took over the property after the owners defaulted, Brown asked that the property be deeded to the city. The city, Brown said, is awaiting that transfer and hopes to recruit a developer for the property.

This year saw the creation of a street inventory list and the implementation of the city’s street repair program, with $500,000 used to pave and micro-seal several streets. Brown said he hopes to do two more rounds of the program in the spring and fall of 2014.

Brown remains committed to having Martin Luther King Jr. Street named “the most beautiful Martin Luther King Jr. street in America,” and said the progress made on the scattered-site housing development in those areas in 2013 will help beautify the area. Great strides were also made this year in planning the city’s tricentennial celebration for 2016, Brown said.

“I will tell you that I am doubly pleased by where we are today as opposed to this time last year,” he said.

Adams County

At the beginning of the year, Adams County Board of Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said he wanted the county to make online bill payment for taxes available to residents, hire a litter enforcement officer and work with the City of Natchez to map out long-term plans for fire protection for county residents who live outside the city limits.

All of those things happened, Grennell said.

Adams County’s Tax Collection office launched a webpage earlier this month that allows residents to pay their taxes online.

The county’s litter enforcement now falls under the purview of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Grennell said. The county hired a litter enforcement officer, but the officer subsequently resigned. Grennell said the board of supervisors approached Sheriff Chuck Mayfield about overseeing the litter enforcement program, and Mayfield agreed.

“It was actually to the benefit of the county that the litter enforcement officer falls under the auspices of the sheriff’s department,” Grennell said. “As an employee of the sheriff’s department, (the officer) is deputized and has the ability to write citations and tickets and take (violators) to court.”

The city and the county were able to reach an agreement on fire protection, which calls for an overall reduction in responses from the Natchez Fire Department to calls outside the city limits.

The county hired an assistant fire coordinator to recruit volunteer firefighters and is working to obtain grant money to buy the Natchez Fire Department a new fire truck, which was part of the inter-local agreement with the city.

Grennell said there is still work to be done on the implementation of the county’s fire protection plan in 2014. “But I think we’re on the move in a forward direction as far as fire protection,” he said.

City of Vidalia

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said the city faced issues in 2013 that carried over from 2012 when lost revenues from the hydro plant led to layoffs and cuts.

But Copeland said the city is getting back on sound financial ground with the help of accountant Ashley Anderson, who joined the city’s staff in 2013.

“Hydro revenues have been good this year, so we’re getting over that crisis,” Copeland said.

One of the biggest highlights of 2013 for Vidalia, Copeland said, was the opening of Vidalia’s $7 million recreation complex.

“It’s been a tremendous economic boost not just for Vidalia, but for the Miss-Lou,” he said.