Warren’s water ‘selling point’ as top county|[7/28/06]

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 28, 2006

Warren is one of the top 100 rural counties in the United States because of its natural resource – the Mississippi River, said Leland Speed.

Speed, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, spoke at the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District’s 20th Annual Awards Banquet Thursday.

Nearly 200 people attended the ceremony.

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&#8220I want people to understand what we have here,” said Speed. &#8220People love water and they’ll pay big money just to stand around and stare at it.”

It’s a message the private developer-turned-state-exective has made repeatedly about the area. Speed was appointed Mississippi’s industrial development chief by Gov. Haley Barbour in 2004 and has said there’s tremendous untapped potential in Warren County.

He also said the SWCD’s preservation work is essential.

&#8220I want to commend this organization for realizing what we have and the work they’re doing to preserve it,” he said.

Speed recalled that before Hurricane Katrina, condominiums were being built along U.S. 90 and the asking rate for those units was $300 to $400 per square foot. He said there’s no reason Vicksburg can’t invest in riverfront housing and make use of its best asset.

Sam Newsome, Mississippi Association of Conservation District’s second vice president, said this area is blessed with ample water.

&#8220All we need to do is keep it clean,” said Newsome. &#8220God did not intend for us to have brown water. And that’s the reason we’re here tonight. The people in this room understand what we need to do to help clean up the water and it’s our responsibility to share it with others.”

The SWCD is responsible for conservation practices and guiding proper land use. In addition to its own projects, the district presented nine awards to Warren County landowners and students for their conservation efforts. Winners were: