Leaders travel to capital; Meetings with delegation slated for Washington trip

Published 12:13 am Saturday, January 17, 2015

NATCHEZ City, tourism and National Park Service leaders hope to shine a light on Natchez while visiting the nation’s capital.

Mayor Butch Brown, Tricentennial Commission Director Jennifer Combs, Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Kevin Kirby and Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Jenkins will travel to Washington, D.C., next week with an important goal — promote Natchez.

“My first reason for going is to always build relationships,” Jenkins said. “It’s interesting to hear what others think about Natchez.”

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Jenkins said the group has a busy agenda while in D.C., including presentation regarding the development of the grounds at Fort Rosalie that Jenkins hopes can be open next year.

“I want to make sure they understand how nationally significant this site it and how it will play a big part with the Natchez Tricentennial,” Jenkins said.

The Tricentennial, Natchez’s 300th birthday, will be celebrated in 2016 with a year full of events.

NPS owns seven of 35 designated acres at the Fort Rosalie site, concentrated between the Canal Street road into downtown and the top of the 200-foot bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.

The park has completed a development concept plan for the site to guide rehabilitation efforts. A corresponding public meeting will be hosted in February 2015 in Natchez.

The park has received no targeted funding to move forward with site development, but will move forward with landscape preparation in 2015 using park base funds, Jenkins said.

A grand opening of the site is planned for Aug. 3, 2016 — the site’s 300th anniversary.

Combs said she is eager to meet with congressmen, ambassadors and park service officials in D.C.

“I’m excited to spread the message of Natchez by meeting with ambassadors from France,” Combs said. “We really want to introduce what we have with the Tricentennial.”

The group hopes to form a partnership with the ambassadors and invite them to various celebrations that will take place in 2016.

“We want to let them know what it is we’re looking for in 2016 and see where their goals and initiatives fit in with us,” Combs said. “We are going to be inviting them to attend some of our flash ship events.

“I want them to know that Natchez is an important part of Mississippi tourism. We are a unique place.”

Kirby said the mission of the trip is to drive tourism.

“The focus is to connect with our Mississippi political partners in Washington, to establish and enhance relationships with our historical partners and to forge new relationships while highlighting the focus on Natchez as a national city,” Kirby said.

Brown will also attend the United States Conference of Mayors meeting during the trip.