Vidalia mayor tapped to lead national river cities task force

Published 2:20 pm Thursday, September 28, 2023

VIDALIA, La. – Mayor Buz Craft will chair the city/state task force for the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI).

The initiative, which is comprised of mayor’s from cities and towns along the river, met recently for its annual meeting and to elect new officers. MRCTI’s governing structure calls for two co-chairs and an executive committee member from each state along the main stem all representing over 104 cities along America’s most vital waterway. This year’s conference was held at the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Bemidji, Minnesota, where the mighty Mississippi River begins.

The newly elected executive committee members are:
• Hon. Mitch Reynolds, La Crosse, Wisconsin – MRCTI Co-Chair
• Hon. George Flaggs, Vicksburg, Mississippi – MRCTI Co-Chair
• Hon. Jerry Koch, Coon Rapids, Minnesota State Chair
• Hon. Brad Bark, Muscatine, Iowa State Chair
• Hon. David Goins, Alton, Illinois State Chair
• Hon. Phil Stang, Kimmswick, Missouri State Chair
• Hon. Cliff Berry, Tiptonville, Tennessee State Chair
• Hon. Melisa Logan, Blytheville, Arkansas State Chair
• Hon. Errick Simmons, Greenville, Mississippi State Chair
• Hon. Belinda Constant, Gretna, Louisiana State Chair & Corp. Advisory Bd. Presiding Mayor
• Hon. Buz Craft, Vidalia, Louisiana – City/State Task Force Chair

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The 2023 conference brought together dozens of mayors from each of the ten states along the river as well as global stakeholders to address key issues facing the Mississippi River and the communities along its banks.

The mayors unanimously adopted a resolution to facilitate the pursuit of a Mississippi River Compact, modeled alongside other multi-state waterway compacts focused on the protection and livelihood of the Mississippi River.

MRCTI, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the University of Georgia released a plastic pollution report detailing the culmination of a citizen science report along the entire Mississippi River that provides accurate detail of the plastic pollution intensity along the Corridor and offers a brand audit to encourage plastic reduction commitments. In tandem with the release of the report, mayors announced a new and innovative partnership to equip MRCTI cities with the tools and capacity to implement plastic circularity components such as broader recycling with Replenysh. The first of its kind, Replenysh’s technology and network enable brands to recover and reuse their recyclable materials with full traceability, making it easy to act, accelerate engagement through trust, and achieve rapid impact;

Among the first of its kind in the nation, MRCTI completed a historic agreement between the Indigenous Nations of the headwaters region and MRCTI in the form of a Memorandum of Common Purpose to address the drought impacts currently gripping the Corridor.