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Recreation renewal — city, county work together

Grateful. I’ve been using this word a lot lately.

Last week, some of the city and county officials met to discuss recreation. It was a great meeting.

I was there representing the City of Natchez along with Ricky Gray president of the Adams County Board of Supervisors.

Also present were supervisor Wes Middleton, and three alderpersons, Valencia Hall, Sarah Carter Smith and Dan Dillard, our Board of Aldermen’s Recreation Committee. (Under the Natchez City Charter, the mayor appoints six city committees — Recreation is one of them. The others include Police, Fire, Health and Utilities, Public Buildings and Streets.) Also present were new County Administrator Angie Isaac King, Board Attorneys Bryan Callaway and Scott Slover, and members of the Natchez/Adams County Recreation Commission.

We had a very honest and open discussion, and I left the meeting feeling encouraged — and yes, grateful.

When I took office, skeptics predicted that the city and county would forever be on separate pages, working their own agendas. I am grateful to say that these skeptics were wrong. Never before have I been more excited about a growing partnership. The City of Natchez and Adams County are working together. And the future for all 30,000 who live in our city and county is bright.

Gray has a saying that I love repeating, but I must always give credit to him. The saying is too good. “Teamwork makes the dream work.” And this is exactly what is going to happen in Natchez/Adams County with regard to recreation.

For many years, the dream has been a sports complex. It’s time to make this dream a reality. For this purpose, we have begun negotiating a new inter-local agreement, which will allow the city and county to work together to build a new Sports and Wellness Center, to be located at Liberty Park.

This will be a place for everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, featuring indoor facilities for sports and recreation in addition to areas for wellness programs, exercise classes, and other activities for adults and seniors.

Also included will be upgrades to the pool and ball fields and soccer fields located at Liberty Park. We would also like to see a water park included in the long-range plans.

With this new inter-local agreement, the City-County Recreation Commission will dissolve, which will allow the city to re-focus its efforts and resources to much-needed upgrades at the city’s six municipal parks.

Much of this work will be done with the involvement of a newly formed Recreational Renewal Task Force, to be chaired by Alderwoman Valencia Hall.

Of course a lot of work is still to come. The Inter-Local Agreement for a Sports and Wellness Center is just now being negotiated. And budgets, funding sources, and other decisions are yet to be determined.

But progress is happening. And the city and county are working together. For this I repeat the word. Grateful!

Dan M. Gibson is mayor of Natchez.