MAYOR: 2022 has great things in store for Natchez

Published 12:00 pm Saturday, January 8, 2022

As the son and grandson of a long-line of farmers from rural Hinds and Copiah Counties, I have caught myself lately identifying with that person we can all picture, his face creased with lines forged by the sun, working so hard to get his soil just right, his rows straight, and his seeds planted. And then waiting… waiting impatiently for the harvest.

2022 is going to be a year of incredible harvest for Natchez. I have no doubt. When we look back at what a great year we had in 2021, in spite of so many challenges brought on by a national pandemic, we can only imagine how much better this new year will be. We are now very close to seeing great fruit as a result of our labor. Being patient is the hardest part.

In considering the harvest to come, I’d like to highlight a few key items:

Workforce Development – Just one month ago, we did something historic as a community. The City of Natchez, The Adams County Board of Supervisors, and the Natchez Adams School District joined forces to hire a Director of Workforce Development. Tuwanna Williams is now hard at work, only one week in, and she is working to secure possibly millions of dollars in grants to make our dreams of a ready and trained workforce come true. Can’t wait to see the harvest that comes from this!

The Raising of Silver Street – This time last year we were still negotiating with cruise companies, and the idea of a Silver Street that would no longer flood seemed hardly imaginable. We now are well on our way, on target for a May groundbreaking of the raising of the section at the bottom of the hill that floods.  Our Director of Community Development, James Johnston, has been working tirelessly with engineers and invested parties. We are excited!

The Eola Hotel – Great strides have been made to return this iconic Natchez landmark to her former glory. Development partners have been hard at work on plans, funding strategies, etc. A December setback, construction estimates coming in way over budget due to pandemic-related inflation in construction materials and labor cost, has caused us some heartburn, but I am hopeful that these hurdles will soon be overcome. We want this historic project to be a major part of our 2022 harvest!

Recreation Renewal – With a new Department of Parks and Recreation now in place for the first time in many years, along with funds from a $2 million bond completed last year, we are anticipating visible progress to begin soon. We are grateful to have Sanora Cole, our new Parks and Recreation Director in the lead, and plans for renovated structures and new equipment are quickly coming into focus. Can’t wait to see this bloom in ’22!

While I have highlighted these four major initiatives that are very likely to bear fruit this year, there are numerous others that we are looking towards: installation of signage for NAPAC’s self-guided tour of African American history, the renovation of the old Margaret Martin School, additional funds for Forks of the Road, funds to repair Morgantown Road, lighting of the bridges, and commercial air service for our airport. There are still others, too many to mention.

We are truly fortunate to have such a fertile ground for the continued growth of our wonderful community and the continuation of the Natchez Renewal. I look forward to a bountiful harvest. Natchez Deserves More.