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Slowly but surely positive change happening here

Creating positive change in a community does not happen overnight. Rather, creating change is like turning a barge in the river — slow and steady.

We in Natchez are beginning to see the turnaround in a number of different ways.

In large part, we have Natchez Inc. and its staff Chandler Russ, Heather Malone and Aimee Guido to thank.

Way back at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which seems like a lifetime ago, Natchez Inc. went to work to make certain when it was safe for small businesses to open, the Miss-Lou would be ready to go.

Because of their work, businesses were provided with information about the ShopSmart program and how to safely prepare to serve customers again. At the same time, Natchez Inc. and its counterpart in Concordia Parish invested money through advertising to get the word out to residents to spend their money right here at home, and residents responded by doing just that.

Now, Russ and Natchez Inc. are leading the way in the entire state through setting up the first program to provide incentives for those who can work remotely to come make their homes in Natchez.

More and more, particularly since the pandemic, people are seeing the virtues of living in a small community. Russ and his staff are working to make sure those who can work from anywhere take a look at Natchez. Who wouldn’t want to live in one of the most interesting, historic communities in the country? Thanks to Natchez Inc., those who can work remotely can earn incentives by moving and buying property here. That’s a great thing for potential residents and a great thing for Natchez.

Slowly but surely, our barge is making the turn, thanks to Natchez Inc., the business leaders of Natchez Now who support it, and city leaders here.

An apology

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten took offense at a column I published last week in this space, in which I called for Patten and Natchez resident Jack Blaney to sit down together, talk face to face and iron out their differences.

Blaney is the man who recently informed the Adams County Board of Supervisors he intends to begin a minuteman group here, located in the Kingston area.

I wrote that it is well known Patten and Blaney have some kind of feud going on.

Patten said such is not true in any form, that he is not engaged in a feud with Blaney or anyone else.

Patten said he made a social media video addressing Blaney’s proposed group in response to numerous calls from concerned citizens who are fearful of such a group. In his video, Patten did not name Blaney but said the group is the work of one person, who he called an agitator who wants to promote bigotry.

Patten said addressing the fears of citizens and reassuring them is his job. He said law enforcement does not need the assistance of this or any such group, that he will not call undue attention to it, but his department will pay close attention to it.

I apologize to Sheriff Patten for misrepresenting that he and Blaney are in a feud.

I apologize to Blaney, too. In chalking up his proposed group to simply a desire to get the ire of the sheriff, I may have misrepresented his intentions and the group he wants to form here.

My intentions were good. I thought of my column as a somewhat light-hearted way to deflate what seems to be a very tense and disturbing situation for lots of Adams County residents.

You know what road they claim is paved with good intentions.

Jan Griffey is general manager of The Natchez Democrat. You may reach her at 601-445-3627 or jan.griffey@natchezdemocrat.com. Readers are invited to submit their opinions for publication.