Letters to the Editor

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Send your letters to missloumagazine@peoplepc.com. Letters can be sent by postal mail to Miss-Lou Magazine/Natchez Sun, 4835 Bonita Beach Road, Unit 505, Bonita Springs, FL 34134. Anonymous letters will not be printed. Please include your name, address and phone number for verification.

 

Attorney Lewis Outlines NCPC-CVB Operations

Jennifer Ogden Combs is the executive director of the the NCPC and CVB

To: Peter Rinaldi, Miss-Lou Magazine

From: Grayson Lewis, Lewis Law Firm, representing the Natchez Convention Promotion Commission

The Natchez Convention Promotion Commission appreciates that you have taken your journalistic endeavors seriously over the years. We are providing you with the information as listed below, in an effort to help you publish accurate and financial information.

1) The Natchez Convention and Promotion Commission (NCPC), referred to as the CVB, and its executive director, Jennifer Combs, does not manage or operate the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

2) The NCPC leases office space in the Natchez Visitor Reception Center from the city of Natchez and is merely a tenant of the building.

3) The city of Natchez owns and operates the Natchez Visitor Reception Center. City officials have determined the open and close dates and times for city owned and operated buildings, with exception of the Natchez Convention Center. Please direct comments or questions related to the operation of the reception center to the property city officials or employees.

4) The Natchez Convention Promotion Commission staff have worked tireless from home and in the office in a safe manner as prescribed by national, state and local guidelines. The staff have been leaders in information dissemination during the pandemic and for crafting marketing messages to attract a wide audience in a safe manner.

5) The Natchez Convention Promotion Commission has no control over the operation of any privately owned tourist enterprise. In fact, it is strictly prohibited providing oversight on those businesses. Towards that end, the Commission cannot force establishments to reopen. The Commission and Jennifer Combs cannot open tourism. The Commission can and does promote visitation to Natchez and Adams County and also provides support to tourism partners through educational opportunities, marketing assistance, co-op advertising, tourism summits and other programs.

6) The Natchez Convention Promotion Commission is funded by a special sales taxes on hotel rooms, food and beverage sales that meet criteria. The Commission does not receive any funding from the city of Natchez. The Commission payroll is not over $1 million annually.

7) In several statements, you state Combs was at protest instead of work, insinuating that she was not doing her job and/or being paid during work time to be at a protest. The protest in reference was on a Saturday, which is also a day that Combs is not required to work during her regular pay period. What Combs chooses to do on her personal time is her business.

Should you need any additional information or clarification, please contact the staff at info@visitnatchez.com.

Publisher's note: Thank you, Grayson, for your illuminating letter. While my original comments were published only on our Facebook pages, I will publish your response on our FB pages, Miss-Lou Magazine and www.miss-loumagazine.com to give your info the widest exposure.

Wildlife Mississippi Helps Landowners

Dear Sirs:

Wildlife Mississippi has begun an expanded effort to help private landowners in Mississippi by building on its existing landowner outreach efforts and more fully assisting them. This effort, in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will enhance and expand outreach for Farm Bill conservation programs throughout Mississippi. Recently, Steven Byrd, formerly of the NRCS, joined the staff of Wildlife Mississippi as a private lands conservation specialist.

Wildlife Mississippi’s goals are simple. We want to: 1) expand participation in Farm Bill conservation programs; 2) develop an outreach and education program that combines the resources and expertise of Wildlife Mississippi and the NRCS; 3) improve outreach to historically underserved populations of farmers, ranchers, and forest owners in Mississippi; and 4) increase enrollment of marginal lands in Farm Bill conservation programs. Enrollment of marginal lands would decrease the outlay of public funds for crop insurance, disaster payments, and other taxpayer-funded payments while improving farm efficiency.

We will assist private landowners, public agencies, non-profit conservation organizations, and others to meet local, regional, and national goals for improving water quality; improving or maintaining ecological processes and functions; enhancing wildlife populations; and meeting landscape-level conservation priorities and NRCS initiatives, including the Gulf of Mexico Initiative, Longleaf Pine Initiative, the Prairie Grasslands Initiative, and the Mississippi River Basin Initiative.    

Wildlife Mississippi, a non-profit conservation organization now in its 22nd year of operation, has protected, restored, or enhanced more than 500,000 acres of wildlife habitat in the state. We specialize in private lands conservation and work to balance conservation and economic vitality while striving to improve the state’s quality of life.    

Byrd's previous experience with the NRCS, and growing up and continuing to work our small family farm in northeast Mississippi, has taught him first-hand the necessity of appropriate conservation and management. Utilizing Farm Bill practices and programs to achieve ecological, economical, and personal goals for your property and/or operation is an excellent tool available to all landowners for maximizing land potential. If you are interested in protecting, restoring, and/or enhancing coastal habitats, longleaf pine, native prairie/grasslands, and/or bottomland hardwoods/wetlands through any conservation programs, please email him at sbyrd@wildlifemiss.org or call 662.820.9720.

James L. Cummins, Wildlife Mississippi


 

Consolidation by Repeal of City Charter

Dear Sirs:

The recent Stennis Institute public forum on Mississippi municipal government forms reconfirms that changing Natchez city government form or replacing city elected officials will not cure area problems. Stennis says, “any of the forms of government can be effective” depending on elected officials’ behavior; however, our city government’s lack of basic competencies, irresponsible spending, and failure to manage city contractors, property, and departments compounds our population decline and local economy problems. We are beyond the study stage. Radical changes now for our area are a must. It is inconceivable that city elected officials will give up power or positions, take reduced salaries and by-pass excessive travel perks, or give complete authority to a City Manager for administration, personnel, and money matters. Don’t expect city elected officials to combine all services with the county. That would further expose city elected officials as unnecessary and irrelevant.

Service consolidation attempts locally have mostly failed, with annual infighting between city and county officials. Visit “City Failures” at www.OneBoardnatchezadams.com for a list of what we have all endured just in these past 34 months—city leaders who thumb noses at employees, taxpayers, and laws—most recently state law on routine maintenance of minute books, unindexed since 2016 but for 366 pages. OneBoard believes critical time and money are now being wasted with talk of prolonging the life of Natchez city government. This will simply further compound problems and endanger the needed reboot.

The turning point in the recent forum came when Sue Wiltz, with a long and distinguished public service career elsewhere, asked about local government consolidation—a common subject across the country for areas with declining populations and economies. Stennis professors informed Sue that she could raise her question later this month when University of Georgia speakers discuss consolidation—presumably consolidated government form(s) permitted in Georgia. I look forward to hearing their presentation; however, unlike Georgia, Mississippi does not allow consolidated local governments.

To be clear, OneBoard is not about trying to consolidate the governments of the city and the county. Mississippi counsel tells us Mississippi does not permit it. If both city and county government exist, they must be separate. Each Mississippi county’s Board of Supervisors is required and protected under the Mississippi Constitution, whereas Mississippi municipalities are strictly optional and charters can be repealed. OneBoard is in favor of forced consolidation via City charter repeal. All local government functions would be run by the Board of Supervisors, which has in place a County Administrator administering and managing all services and operations. City government goes away under the OneBoard initiative. “Natchez,” to identify our community name, remains. The Board of Supervisors can establish an economic development area for the Natchez bluff/tourism/entertainment area. Legislation can address tax diversion so our area receives sales and other taxes it collects. City funding like “casino money” goes to the county. See illustrative list online under “City Failures” described above. Only property owners within former city boundaries pay off former city debt. Yes, legislative tweaks would be made for separate political subdivisions, like Natchez Convention Promotion Commission.

All of this leads us to expect that, for the Georgia presentation to be relevant for our area, it should focus on Mississippi processes to consolidate all of our local government functions under the Board of Supervisors. We also know that besides city charter repeal, “forced consolidation” can also occur incrementally through neighborhood withdrawals from the city. OneBoard’s initiative—dissolution of city government through legislative repeal of the obsolete city charter is the quickest, most direct path to saving this area, resulting in default by operation of law to the Board of Supervisors. It also means that our area will then have “all eyes on 5” Supervisors elected to the Adams County Board of Supervisors and no more blame game between the local governmental entities.

OneBoard supporters are bi-partisan, of all races and ages, investors, business owners, employers, and white, pink, and blue collar workers, property owners, aspiring property owners and ex pats forced to leave for economic reasons. Sign the petition to save our area through consolidation of all local government functions. Go to www.OneBoardNatchezAdams.com for the online petition and information, or pick up petitions at 329 Market Street downtown.

Paul H. Benoist, Natchez

Stewpot in Urgent Need of Canned Vegetables

Vidalia plays Ferriday in football Oct. 18 (at Ferriday). If you can guess the FINAL SCORE of the game, you can win a LG 43" Smart TV from Sportsman Fish & Grill, Miss-Lou Magazine and Walmart. Send an email to missloumagazine@peoplepc.com. Guess the final score of the game. If you guess correctly, you get the TV! If there are multiple winners, then the winners get share the proceeds (TV worth $244) in Walmart gift cards (for example, 2 winners, each winner receive a gift card for $122.) When you send your email, include your name, address and phone number. Deadline for entering is Oct. 17. ENTER BY EMAIL TO WIN YOUR TV! Winner(s) will be notified by email.

Dear Sirs:

Please help feed the hungry in our community.

 

The Stewpot is very low on vegetables. It takes 9 large cans to prepare the 300 meals that we serve every day. Please consider getting together with your family, classmates, group, club, or Sunday school class to collect enough cans for one day or one week.   

 

Any amount will be appreciated. Vegetables can be delivered to the Stewpot Monday to Saturday from 7:30 am to 2:00 pm. Thank you!

 

Stewpot address: 69 East Franklin Street


Amanda Jeansonne, Natchez

Southern Pine Beetle Epidemic

Dear Sirs:

The U.S. Forest Service announced today that it has established an Incident Management Team to direct efforts to suppress southern pine beetle infestations that threaten to damage tens of thousands of acres of pine forests in Mississippi.

Forest Health officials have classified the level of infestations as a severe outbreak. “This outbreak is unprecedented in scope with beetle activity progressing at breakneck speed with infestations rapidly escalating in size, coalescing, and decimating whole plantations,” said Jim Meeker, an entomologist with the Forest Service.

Recent surveys conducted by flights and on the ground found more than 3,500 spots of infestation by southern pine beetles on the Homochitto Ranger District (southwest Mississippi), Bienville Ranger District (central Mississippi), Tombigbee Ranger District and the Holly Springs Ranger District (both in north Mississippi).

“We have put together a dedicated team of professionals to manage our beetle suppression and resource protection efforts as an incident. This approach provides an increased focus and additional resources as we work to protect resources on public and private forest lands,” said National Forests in Mississippi Forest Supervisor Gretta Boley. “We are working very closely with our state partner, the Mississippi Forestry Commission.”

The southern pine beetle, a native insect, is the most destructive forest pest in the South, both in economic and ecological impacts. In the absence of southern pine beetle suppression, large-scale pine mortality occurs, destroying endangered species habitat, recreation opportunities, timber, and other property values.

The southern pine beetle is a cyclical outbreak species, which becomes an area-wide and aggressive tree-killer during outbreaks.  Scientists believe there are several reasons for this severe outbreak

--- recent unseasonably mild winters and excessively dry, drought conditions in the summers and falls,

--- an abundance of moderate to high density pine stands, including more than 100,000 acres of unthinned loblolly and shortleaf stands that are highly susceptible to infestation by the insect, and

--- the inability to complete effective suppression activities in previous years.  

Staff from the National Forests in Mississippi and the Mississippi Forestry Commission are working closely with the incident management team. “We are working with and reaching out to private landowners who have questions or need assistance related to the southern pine beetle outbreaks,” said Mississippi State Forester Charlie Morgan. “We continue to work with and support our federal partner, the National Forests in Mississippi, in responding to the southern pine beetle outbreaks.”

“Our crews are working very hard in some extreme conditions including rough terrain and excessive heat,” Boley added. “They are doing an excellent job. Carrying out our work safely is of the utmost importance.”

Ground saturation, including frequent pop-up showers, has also created a significant challenge to suppression efforts. Because of the amount of recent and continued rain fall, logging crews have limited ability at this time to operate heavy equipment.

Forest workers are cutting infested trees to suppress the spread of the beetles and protect resources. Cutting trees helps prevent spot growth by disrupting the beetle pheromone communication system and thus their ability to effectively aggregate and mass attack new pine trees. It is generally thought that most southern pine beetles die before they can colonize trees in a new spot, particularly in the summer when survival outside of the tree is short.

Foresters generally use one of two suppression methods: cut and remove or cut and leave.

Cut and remove is the preferred and most effective suppression tactic because it eliminates all the beetle and their pheromone odors from the forest. Because of the markets and weather, cut and remove has not been available as an option. While less effective, cut and leave – a method that leaves the cut tree in the forest – is the primary suppression tactic at this time.

For more information about southern pine beetles, go to www.mfc.ms.gov/SPB-Prevention.

Mario Rossilli, Public Affairs Staff Officer

U.S. Forest Service, Jackson