‘Making the wheels turn;’ Local leaders showcase projects and priorities to D.C. staffers

Published 1:19 pm Thursday, August 18, 2022

NATCHEZ — Adams County’s voices in Washington, D.C., and staffers from Gov. Tate Reeve’s office had an opportunity to tour several key locations throughout Natchez and Adams County on Wednesday and Thursday.

Local and state leaders including Natchez Aldermen, Adams County Supervisors and Mississippi Department of Archives and History leaders and economic development stakeholders led the tour.

“We’re excited to host the Washington D.C. staffers and highlight for them, allowing them to see on the ground, what we are asking of them when we’re up there,” Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said.

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There were no elected leaders on the tour other than the local elected officials, Russ said. However, a dozen staffers working on the state and federal levels took part.

“It’s a good visit and we’re honored,” Russ said. “This is the working group, the group behind the scenes that is making the wheels turn.”

On Wednesday the group visited the Adams County Port facility, Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, and the Downtown Natchez Area and on Thursday planned to visit the Natchez-Adams County Airport, Historic Jefferson College, Forks of the Road and the Morgantown Road area, Russ said.

All areas on the list either have or will have projects that may require federal support.

“All of them are a chance to say, ‘This is the reason we’re asking for this. Here it is,’” Russ said. “It’s not just pie in the sky. We really value this. To have such a group here is really a testament to our community’s efforts. It’s not every day that you have 10 D.C. staffers here at one time.”

On Wednesday, MDAH Executive Director Katie Blount gave a presentation to the congressional leaders at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians about MDAH’s plans for the site.

“Earlier we announced that Mississippi Legislature has provided $8 million for our two sites, here and at Jefferson College,” Blount said.

“Our plans here are to build a new interpretive center. We will still use the building here, but it’s way too small and the exhibits are out of date and this is a nationally and internationally significant site that deserves updated and expanded interpretation.”

Blount said MDAH has been very pleased with the state’s support and support of the projects from the local level.

“One of the things we plan to do is work very closely with (Native American) tribes to ensure that their story is at the center of the interpretation here at Grand Village. We’ve also been really gratified by the local support. This is a place important historically in terms of the rich stories that it tells but is also important as a place that Natchezians have visited over generations,” Blount said. “The state has provided funding; local leaders have given us their support, and we’ve been doing private fundraising. But we are also hoping that the federal government will be in partnership here because the story is significant nationally.”