Goals and projects for 2022 on the horizon

Published 4:44 pm Sunday, November 21, 2021

It’s hard to believe we are about to enter the last several weeks of 2021! Over the past few days, I have been evaluating the progress we have made toward the Natchez Renewal this year, and I am now beginning to look forward to the goals and projects we have on the horizon for 2022.

With the help of our lobbyists, Former Congressman Gregg Harper and Manning McPhillips, we were able to accomplish some major items from our 2021 Legislative Agenda – and the future is bright with promise!

It has been a pleasure to see the governing bodies and organizations that represent our wonderful city and county working together to accomplish common goals.  The City of Natchez, the Adams County Board of Supervisors, the Natchez Adams School District, Natchez Inc., Natchez National Park staff, the Natchez Adams Chamber of Commerce, and supportive citizens are truly working as one unit, and we are beginning to see the fruits of our labor!

I am happy to report on some tremendous successes we have made over the last twelve months.  We were able to secure $1,000,000 in state funds to complete the Belwood Levee at the Industrial Park.  As a huge tract will be no longer be prone to flooding, we are able to dramatically increase the size of the footprint of available area for industrial development.  As a result, Velocys will now be able to construct a $1.5 Billion state-of-the-art biofuel plant, the largest in America, adding hundreds of good paying jobs to our region!

We were also able to secure $400,000 in federal acquisition funds for the Forks of the Road Slave Market and ensure that the current fiscal year request of $538,000 was included in the President’s Budget Request and was included in the House and Senate appropriation bills.  We will continue to work on this very important project, so that this piece of American history will have proper recognition and a designated place for solemn reflection.

As we continue to work towards reaching our priority of returning commercial air service to our region, I am delighted that the Natchez- Adams County Airport received $572,928 from the Federal Aviation Administration to finish improvements to the runway.  This is one of many steps needed to bring our airport up to the standards which commercial air companies look for when considering bringing services to an airport.  We look forward to realizing this goal as we seek more opportunities to make this dream a reality.

This past year, we were able to work with MDOT to secure the installation of striping, reflectors, and better drainage for Morgantown Road.  It is critical that we improve the conditions of this heavily traveled area as it has been far too dangerous for far too long.  Both U.S. Representative Michael Guest and U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde- Smith included $2,400,000 earmarks in transportation appropriation bills with the goal of funding improvements to Morgantown Road to completion.  Unfortunately, the house bill was amended to include no earmarks.  Still, the request for funding remains in federal appropriation bills.  We will work diligently until these funds are secured and the improvements are completed.

Our 2022 Legislative Agenda includes many priorities addressing a myriad of needs for both our city and county.  Among these priorities are a study of city- wide drainage issues, improvements to our airport terminal, re – lighting the Mississippi River bridges, continued funding for Forks of the Road, continued improvements to Morgantown Road, broadband expansion, an extension of the motion picture tax credit, granting “first responder status” to public works employees, and an increased focus on workforce development.  I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and continue working hard to see these goals to fruition! Natchez Deserves More.

Dan Gibson is mayor of Natchez.