I have often said that our city, our county and our school board are working together like never before. It has been a pleasure to collaborate on workforce development, infrastructure projects and so many other important endeavours. We indeed work as a cohesive unit, and the Natchez renewal is the result.
We also received a lot of help from our friends at Natchez Inc., the Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce, civic groups and individual citizens. Although we collaborated locally, it should not be forgotten that we also received considerable support from our state agencies. I would like to pay tribute to just three of these entities in particular – the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Development Authority.
Just this week we received confirmation from Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King that we have received $469,100 in Federal Alternative Transportation Program funds for a downtown entertainment district on North Commerce Street. These improvements will include upgrading sidewalks to current ADA standards, incorporating new aesthetically pleasing streetlights, providing pedestrian and vehicular traffic safety, and improving handicapped access at street intersections. Main and Franklin. MDOT also recently cleaned up Sgt. Prentiss By-Pass Bridge on Liberty Road and made safety improvements to Morgantown Road. I would like to personally thank Commissioner King and his team at MDOT for these contributions which greatly enhance the safety, beauty and appeal of our historic city.
In late January, the city received $234,192 in community heritage grant funds from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to improve Auburn and Duncan Park. This will include renovations to the billiard room so that it can once again be used by the public as a community centre, repairs to the pavilion and bathrooms located near the play area and the restoration of the majestic pillars of Auburn. Work has just been completed to completely replace the roof of City Hall with funds provided last year by the MDAH, and restoration work is underway at the Natchez Historic Foundation and the Ellicott House. Hill. I would like to thank the Department Director, Katie Blount, and the MDAH Board of Directors for their continued support of Natchez and our many historic sites.
Last but not least, it was just announced that the Mississippi Development Authority has provided $1.8 million to complete the Bellwood Levy project in the county’s industrial park. This is in addition to the million dollars secured by the MS Legislative Assembly last year. This now paves the way for meeting an important deadline: completing the royalty in time for Velocys to inaugurate America’s largest biorefinery next year. We owe a debt of gratitude to Governor Tate Reeves, Acting MDA Director Laura Hipp, and their outstanding team members.
Although I have only highlighted three specific state agencies, the City of Natchez and Adams County have benefited from many other grants awarded at both the state and federal levels. I predict that when the total amount of these grants is calculated, the sum will reach into the millions!
We are making great strides as we continue to celebrate our Natchez renewal, and I look forward to many more exciting announcements to come. Natchez deserves better!
Dan Gibson is mayor of Natchez.