A little help from our friends

Published 12:00 pm Sunday, February 6, 2022

I have said often that our city, county, and school board are working together like never before.  It has been a pleasure to collaborate on workforce development, infrastructure projects, and so many other important efforts. We are indeed working as a cohesive unit, and the Natchez Renewal has been the result.

We have had plenty of help as well from our friends at Natchez Inc., the Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce, civic groups, and individual citizens. While we have been collaborating locally, it should not go without mention that we have also received tremendous support from our state agencies.  I would like to give recognition to just three of those entities in particular- the Mississippi Department of Transportation, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Development Authority.

Just this week we received confirmation from Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King that we have been awarded $469,100 in Federal Transportation Alternative Program funds for a Downtown Entertainment District on North Commerce Street.  These improvements will include upgrading sidewalks to current ADA standards, incorporating new aesthetic light poles, providing safety for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and improving handicapped access at the intersections of Main and Franklin Streets.  MDOT also recently cleaned the Sgt. Prentiss By-Pass Bridge on Liberty Road and made safety improvements to Morgantown Road.  I would like to personally thank Commissioner King and his team at MDOT for these contributions that greatly enhance the safety, beauty, and attractiveness of our historic city.

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In late January, the city was awarded $234,192 in Community Heritage Grant funds by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for the purpose of improvements to Auburn and Duncan Park.  This will include renovations to the billiard hall so that it can once again be used by the public as a community center, repair of the pavilion and bathrooms located near the playground, and restoration of Auburn’s majestic columns.  Work was just completed to fully replace the roof at City Hall utilizing funds provided last year by MDAH, and restoration work is ongoing at the Natchez Historic Foundation and the House on Ellicott Hill. I would like to thank Department Director Katie Blount and the MDAH Board of Trustees for their ongoing support of Natchez and our many historic sites.

Last but certainly not least, it was just announced that the Mississippi Development Authority has provided $1.8 million to complete the Bellwood Levy Project at the county’s industrial park. This is in addition to the $1 million obtained through the MS Legislature last year. This now paves the way for meeting an important deadline: completing the levy in time for Velocys to break ground next year on America’s largest bio-refinery. We owe a debt of gratitude to Governor Tate Reeves, Interim MDA Director Laura Hipp, and their outstanding team members.

While I have highlighted just three specific state agencies, the City of Natchez and Adams County have been the beneficiary of many more grants awarded both at the state and federal level.  I anticipate that when the total amount of these grants is calculated the sum will be well into the millions!

We are making great strides as we continue celebrating our Natchez Renewal, and I look forward to many more great announcements to come. Natchez Deserves More!

Dan Gibson is mayor of Natchez.