United Way offers to handle county’s charity interests|[4/29/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 29, 2005

The president of the United Way of West Central Mississippi Thursday made a pitch to Warren County supervisors to allow the agency to disburse the county’s charitable contributions and verify they are spent properly.

Also at the board’s weekly informal meeting, Monika Mayr, superintendent of the Vicksburg National Military Park, appeared before supervisors seeking input on what the park should do with Pemberton Headquarters on Crawford Street.

Barbara Tolliver, president of the local United Way, told supervisors it is a growing trend for local governments to enlist the aid of United Ways in disbursing local tax money the governments give to charitable organizations. “I have talked to other United Ways” that do this, Tolliver said.

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She said an advantage is that United Way staff can verify that money charities receive is actually spent for the purposes it was allocated to accomplish.

“We are not looking at charging an admin cost, we are just offering you a service,” Tolliver said, adding she was not pushing supervisors for an immediate response. “I’m here just to put a bug in your ear.”

Mayr came to the board along with Tracie Trichell of the local park staff, and Margaret Delaura of the National Park Service Center in Denver, Colo. The NPS now owns Pemberton Headquarters, on Crawford Street, and is deciding how it should be developed as part of the Vicksburg National Military Park’s offering. The house, also known as the Willis House, is where Confederate Lt. Gen. John Pemberton had his headquarters during the Campaign and Siege of Vicksburg during the War Between the States.

Mayr said $750,000 is available to stabilize the house in anticipation of opening it to the public in the future. She is working with focus groups on ideas for displays.

“I was on the (Vicksburg Warren County Community) Alliance” when the first discussions began about getting the building, said David McDonald, board president and District 1 supervisor. “Our focus was to get some of the 1 million visitors to the park to come to downtown and maybe spend an extra day in Vicksburg.”

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