Natchez mayor to travel to D.C. Monday

Published 12:03 am Sunday, July 19, 2015

NATCHEZ — Three city officials are packing their bags and heading to the nation’s capital Monday.

Natchez Mayor Butch Brown, Community Development Director James Johnston and Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Kevin Kirby will visit D.C. to meet with several national officials.

“When I go to D.C., I make sure the schedule is packed,” Brown said.

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While in the capital, Brown said he, Johnston and Kirby will work to secure several events for Natchez’s tricentennial celebration in 2016.

One of those events, Brown said, is a possible Natchez visit from the President of the United States.

“We’re meeting with the director of intergovernmental affairs for the White House, Jerry Abramson, in conjunction with a visit from the President and the First Lady,” Brown said.

The three public officials will also meet with Virginia-based attorney Robert Lubin, who currently owns the historic Eola Hotel, to discuss his plans for the 131-room hotel. Lubin purchased the hotel in December 2014, shutting down the historic hotel. He’s not publicly disclosed his plans for the hotel.

“We want to find out what kind of product he intends to offer (with the hotel),” said Brown, adding that he would prefer the historic structure be used as a hotel rather than residential apartments, which sources at the time of the sale suggested was an option under consideration.Brown said the majority of the trip would be funded by “tricentennial grants from various sources.”

The three officials will leave D.C. at noon Friday.

“It’s all about relationships,” Brown said.

Other meetings on the officials’ D.C. agenda include:

-Meet with the U.S. Postmaster General to discuss the Natchez Post Office and ways to make it more effective

-Meet with the Secretary of the Navy and former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus regarding tricentennial events

-Meet with representatives of the U.S. Department of Transportation to discuss securing TIGER grants (transportation investment generating economic recovery) to assist with renovations to the Natchez Railway system, which runs from Brookhaven to Natchez

-Meet with state senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker