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Natchez is not alone, shares similar issues with other cities

Sometimes living in Natchez is a little like living in a bubble. 

Unlike Vicksburg to the north and Brookhaven to the east, Natchez doesn’t have an interstate connecting the town to thousands of travelers every day.

The city does have the Mississippi River and the Natchez Trace, both once significant sources of traffic that made Natchez a major business center on the edge of the frontier many decades ago. Now the river and the Natchez Trace bring tourists to the area to see our historic sites.  

Even with four-lane highways connecting the city in all directions, Natchez tends to sit isolated in the southwest corner of the state. 

As a result, it can occasionally seem as if many of the city’s problems are unique only to Natchez. 

A quick scan of the headlines from our neighbors to the north and east show other communities that are grappling with many of the same issues residents are in Natchez.

In Vicksburg, city leaders have appointed a 14-member task force to address crime problems in the area. 

Like Natchez, Vicksburg residents are worried about the uptick of crime. 

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. created the crime prevention committee to address the occurrences of crimes that are taking place in the city and also social media issues relating to the subject. Flaggs points to the dissemination of inaccurate information about crimes as one of the significant problems with crime in the city. 

Since the formation of the task force, the public has been meeting with committees to discuss everything from the importance of neighborhood watch and the installation of surveillance cameras in the city. 

In Brookhaven, local businesses are reaping the benefits of a new sports complex that was built a couple of years ago. 

This summer, the complex has hosted numerous baseball tournaments that have kept hotel rooms filled and local restaurants busy. 

As Natchez leaders continue to consider the next steps toward a city recreation complex, Brookhaven celebrated $125,000 in additional sales taxes last July when it hosted its first tournaments. Brookhaven leaders are hoping this year will be even better for city coffers after hosting tournaments for 12 weekends this year.

“The baseball complex is doing exactly what we forecasted it to do. It’s making a huge local economic impact,” Lincoln Civic Center Manager Quinn Jordan said. 

Each story from our neighbors puts into context the same issues Natchez residents contend with regularly. They are only two examples of how much Natchez shares the same concerns that many other Mississippi communities have.   

Recognizing this link, The Natchez Democrat has begun publishing articles from our affiliate newspapers in Vicksburg and Brookhaven that we think our readers will not only find entertaining and informative but will also provide context and a unique perspective.  

In addition to stories about crime prevention and recreation, we have also published inspiring stories of faith and human triumph — stories about a Brookhaven athlete who won four gold medals at the national Special Olympics in Seattle or about how Vicksburg remembered a homeless man who was friends to many, for example.

Such stories reveal how much we have in common and that we may not be as isolated as we seem. 

Ben Hillyer is the news editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3549 or by email at ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.