What is next after birthday party is over for Natchez?

Published 12:48 am Thursday, August 4, 2016

The day after the big party is always a good time to get quiet and consider the future.

Natchez celebrated its founding some 300 years ago with a day of celebrations Wednesday.

Today, let’s consider how the city we love can — and should — move forward.

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Natchez has a world of opportunity at its doorstep.

We are blessed with a town literally dripping with American history — early Native Americans, colonial traders, periods of slavery, Reconstruction, Victorian and the list could go on.

The Natchez area is blessed with amazing natural resources — a powerful river highway, abundant water supplies, immense timber reserves, fertile farmland and much more.

The community also has incredible, man-made impediments to progress, too.

As cartoonist Walt Kelly penned in his Pogo cartoon, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Natchez faces many of the same problems other small, remote cities face — a population that is eroding as Americans increasingly migrate to larger, more metropolitan communities.

That greater, national trend may be unstoppable, at least in the short-term, but our community could be doing so much more to make our area attractive if we stopped fighting and started working together.

We must build a strategic plan for our future. That plan should involve whatever it will take — even if it involves moving heaven and earth or even raising taxes — to improve the area’s infrastructure. Natchez’s roads, sidewalks and drainage could all be improved.

We must address the quality of our schools, instead of shrugging off poor performance as just “inevitable.”

And we must put an end to the petty violence — often driven by street level drug trafficking — and begin treating one another with love and respect.

All of the above takes leadership — community leadership.

Working together, we can make Natchez even greater than it is today and better than it ever was in the past.

The future starts today.