A time to celebrate: Thursday, Aug. 31

Published 1:04 pm Saturday, August 26, 2023

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As your mayor, it is hard to believe that we are now one month into this last year of the first term of our administration. In some ways it seems like yesterday, standing at the bandstand, my hand on my mother’s worn Bible, being sworn in as the 44th Mayor of Natchez.

In other ways, it seems like a long time ago. So much has happened. Once the pomp and circumstance ended, it was time to get to work, and working together our Natchez Renewal has been a time of much success.

And we have much to celebrate! I invite you to join me in celebrating those accomplishments at a Free Celebratory Announcement Party Thursday, Aug. 31, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Natchez Grand Hotel Ballroom. Natchez Blues Legend YZ Ealey will be in the house, and Natchez fun and fellowship will be in the air!

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Over the last three years, we have endured a national pandemic, extreme weather events, and record inflation. Yet, through all this turmoil and adversity, we have emerged with a strong local economy. We have celebrated over 1,000 new jobs, over 250 new small businesses and a few large ones – and growing ones! Our sales tax collections have been historic, currently $400,000 ahead of two years ago, and that was a record year! Without raising taxes, overall city revenue is up $8 million compared to this time three years ago. We have seen over 1000 real estate sales over that same time period and City Hall has issued over 700 building permits representing over $70 million in new construction and renovation!

Investment in our children and families has been a top priority, and our Recreational Renewal has made great strides. In the first year of our administration, we committed over $2 Million to completely renovate our city parks and create a new Parks and Recreation Department that the City of Natchez had been without for many years. We have now re- opened the once dilapidated North Natchez Youth Center, now a beautifully restored community center for all citizens of Natchez to enjoy. We have brand new playground equipment in all our city parks.  Bathrooms have been restored, new tennis courts are under construction, and the Duncan Park baseball fields will soon be complete with new sod and clay for the infields, windscreens, repaired bleachers and dugouts, and brand-new score boards.

Our Natchez Renewal is about to be more evident than ever in the resurfacing of almost 50 city streets, and soon-to-begin renovations of our Convention Center, Civic Center, City Auditorium, and Duncan Park Golf Clubhouse. Phase One renovations are also beginning at our Police Department and Fire Department buildings, City Hall and our City Council Chamber are being renovated, and work will soon begin on a new Downtown Visitors Center at our Historic Depot Building on The Bluff!

Look around Natchez – this renewal is happening everywhere, in our schools, our communities and neighborhoods, our churches and community organizations, and most importantly, in the hearts and minds of our people. Gone are the days of “we can’t.” These are now the days of “we can.”

Serving as your mayor over the past three years has been a great honor, and I look forward to what remains of this final year. However, I know there is much more to be done. Recently, I wrote a column entitled “Hurry Up and Wait” – I am eager to see so many projects we have begun through to completion.

Please join us at the Natchez Grand Thursday night. Not only will we be celebrating the successes of the Natchez Renewal, I will be making an announcement regarding my personal future and the future of Natchez. If you want to be among the first to hear this announcement, please make plans to be there, Thursday, Aug. 31, from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

At this event, it just might be said that Natchez Deserves Four More!

Dan M. Gibson is mayor of Natchez.