2024 Inaugural, One River – One Natchez

Published 7:00 am Sunday, June 30, 2024

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Monday will begin another four years of service to Natchez, not only for me as your mayor, but for our Board of Aldermen, the Hon. Valencia Hall, Ward One, the Hon. Billie Joe Frazier, Ward Two, the Hon. Sarah Carter Smith, Ward Three, the Hon. Felicia Bridgewater Irving, Ward Four, the Hon. Benjamin Davis, Ward Five, and the Hon. Curis Moroney, Ward Six. Also beginning a new term as our Municipal Judge will be the Hon. Christina Daugherty.

The Inaugural Ceremony will take place at noon at the Natchez Convention Center, and all are invited. Later in the day, we will hold the first meeting of our new term, at 3 p.m., at the City Council Chambers and then celebrate together at our 2024 Inaugural Gala, to be held at Rolling River Reloaded, 406 Main Street, from 6 to 8 p.m. Featured artist will be Blues Legend YZ Ealey. All events are free and open to the public.

The theme of this year’s inaugural is “One River – One Natchez.” Just as the river flows as one, so must our city. And while we are making great progress, there is much more to be made. I am excited about the past four years, yes. We have had tremendous economic growth. The Natchez Renewal is evident everywhere you look: 50 newly paved streets, parks that are safe again, and once again ringing with the laughter of children playing; public buildings that are beginning to shine again with new paint – and new pride; tourism that is booming, with one million visitors last year, a $100 million impact to our local economy; sales tax collections continuing to break records; and over 1,000 homes purchased in our zip code over the past four years, over $80 million in new construction and renovation, and yes, over 1,000 new jobs!

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I am indeed proud of our Police Department – new cars, new equipment, working together with our Sheriff and other agencies as never before, and solving crime. And I am proud to say that after a historic series of raises, our police are now the highest paid officers in our region – not bad for our recruitment efforts. And our Fire Department, also now the highest paid in our region, are about to receive a beautiful new firetruck – and Phase One of renovations to our Police Department and Fire Departments are now complete – we are ready to begin Phase Two.

Workforce Development is going strong – job fairs, outstanding enhancements to work programs at Co-Lin and the Fallin Center, and efforts underway at the WIN Job Center and Alcorn are bearing results. We now have a CDL Program again, Natchez Adams School District is about to launch a Career Academy, and a new branch of the Mississippi Coding Academy is headed our way this fall. It’s all good news. But much more remains to be done. It’s time.

It’s time to continue making Natchez safer, with not only our improved streetlights and crime cameras, but more modern strategies, combined with more old-fashioned policing. It’s time to get our cooperative agreements for Fire Safety and 911 Services completed with the county. It’s time to support our county like never before in its efforts to bring back commercial air service to our airport and more activity to our river port and industrial park. It’s time to continue renewing our streets, especially downtown and major thoroughfares that remain in poor condition. It’s time to create more opportunities for our children and families. It’s time to improve our medical situation. And it’s time to create more JOBS. Many successes have already taken place, but more are on the horizon. It’s time.

We can only accomplish all that remains to be done by working together. And just as the river flows ever onward, so must we. One River – One Natchez. Because Natchez Deserves More.

Dan M. Gibson is mayor of Natchez.