Here’s to an exciting, bright new year

Published 12:05 am Sunday, December 31, 2017

As a child, the end of the year was daunting. Three hundred, sixty-five days once seemed an eternity.

Another 12 months had to elapse before Christmas season would come again.

A cold, gray winter was ahead and summer always seemed as if it would never return.

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The older I’ve become, the days seem to accelerate, faster and faster with as the years go by.

As 2017 draws to a close, it’s difficult not to reflect on the closing year and look ahead to the New Year.

This past year has been a rocky one in our community on a number of fronts.

After the 2016 Natchez Tricentennial, 2017 was destined to be a bit of a rebuilding and recharging year and as I look back, it was very much that.

The Natchez area held its own in 2017, but it certainly did not make much forward momentum.

The biggest factors were a sluggish economy and the shrinking population.

Unfortunately, our economy has still bounced along, but has not begun to rebound from the decline of the price of oil from a few years ago.

Natchez Inc. and area leaders are continuing to make significant efforts to attract new businesses and industries to our community. Although they’ve had a few base hits, they’re due for a home run soon. I have the full faith that with continued success and support, Natchez Inc. will have great success in the coming year.

This past year was a one of many conflicts locally on a number of issues.

Our area squabbled over recreation and school building projects. Sadly, those conflicts showed some of our community’s ugly sides as the squabbles became personal and divided us unnecessarily. Eventually cooler heads prevailed and the matters were settled.

Sadly, our community lost some really good people this year.

Some were local celebrities such as the late Fred Callon who led his family’s business, Callon Petroleum.

Callon’s sudden death in May shocked the community and all of his friends and coworkers.

Equally difficult was the loss of Hiawatha “Doc” Northington. While not as surprising perhaps as Callon’s death at a young age, Northington lived 83 good years, dedicating four decades of his life to educating students in the area.

They were, of course, just two of dozens and dozens of losses this past year. Each of those losses was tragic in their own right.

But our area also progressed on some key fronts as well.

The county started work on constructing a levee at the industrial site at the former Belwood Country Club at the port.

The City of Vidalia began getting its financial house in order, which is great news for Vidalia taxpayers.

In Natchez, the Downtown Natchez Farmers Market kicked off and became a quick hit that will only get better in the coming year.

Industries such as Von Drehl continued to impress with their growth.

Progress was also made with the start of the downtown Natchez development plan led by FOR Natchez. The finalized plan will be presented next month and should provide ideas for where the city can develop its most important resource, downtown Natchez.

The future looks bright for Natchez, and 2018 could be a turning point for a bright future ahead.

Happy New Year to all.
Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or