Thank you, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker

Published 9:00 am Sunday, August 7, 2022

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During my recent State of the City address, a major focus of my message was to emphasize that the Natchez Renewal was not the work of a single person but rather the collaborative effort of many. It has been an absolute joy over the last two years to see Natchezians come together to move our city forward, but it has not only been locals helping in these efforts.

In addition to the work of so many here at home, we have had tremendous help at the state and federal levels. These collaborations have helped Natchez, Adams County and our local partners receive over $30 million in specific appropriations and grants during the past two years. While it is difficult to name every person we can thank, I would like to take a moment to give credit to a longtime friend, Mississippi’s senior senator, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker.

When I was elected mayor of Crystal Springs over 20 years ago, Roger Wicker was a freshman congressman in North Mississippi. Even though I was not in his district, I quickly found him to be responsive and open when our city was in need. Now, as Mayor of Natchez, I can truly say that Roger Wicker has not changed.

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One of the most important functions of government is to care for our infrastructure. Senator Wicker’s actions prove where his priorities are. Just last year, he bravely supported the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and through his leadership the entire state of Mississippi will soon see major improvements, including $3.3 billion for roads, $225 million for bridge repairs, over $100 million for broad band infrastructure, and $283 million for water infrastructure. Included in that bill was the designation that now includes Natchez on the route for the new federal interstate, I-14.

Last summer, Senator Wicker delivered the keynote address as the city and the National Park Service signed documents handing over city land to the National Park Service at the historic Forks of the Road site.  Through a collaborative effort including Senator Wicker, Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, Representative Michael Guest, Representative Bennie Thompson, and the rest of Mississippi’s congressional delegation, significant funds have approved through the United States Department of the Interior, paving the way for the National Park Service to purchase privately and commercially owned properties at the 18-acre site. Forks of the Road is now the only site in the National Park inventory dedicated to telling the dark and sobering history of the chattel slavery system in America.

As ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senator Wicker has been a tremendous help to Natchez on several major transportation projects.  Just last week, it was announced that Natchez Adams County Airport was awarded a Small Communities Air Service Development grant. This would not have happened without Senator Wicker. Rarely does an airport receive this grant on its first try. But we now have $750,000 on the way, money that will help us greatly as we bring commercial air service back to Natchez. Add this to the nearly $5 million brought to our airport recently for runway and lighting improvements, and the support is truly tremendous. Senator Wicker, with the help of Senator Hyde-Smith and Congressman Guest, have truly made the difference for Natchez. And we couldn’t be more blessed – and grateful.

The Natchez Renewal is robust and our Natchez Current is strong, thanks to the efforts and hard work of so many. Thank you to everyone. And thank you Senator Wicker. You truly have lived out the words and come through with the actions, that Natchez Deserves More!

Dan Gibson is mayor of Natchez.