VCVB funneling funds to park tablet replacement

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2008

The Vicksburg National Military Park will receive $142,000 to replace 144 tablets and repair monuments through a National Park Service grant thanks in part to an $11,000 contribution approved by Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau directors Thursday.  

Representatives of the non-profit group Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park and Vicksburg Campaign approached the VCVB board to complete the requirement of $71,000 in local dollars to be matched by a federal allocation. The grant is being awarded in honor of the NPS 100th anniversary.

The group received a $35,000 private donation from a Texas resident this week, said Executive Director Harry McMillin, and has collected $25,000 in donations since forming last year with the aim of maintaining and improving the park.

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“This is potentially a big, big deal. You could be the ones to put us over the top,” McMillin told the board, which unanimously approved the contribution.

McMillin said the tablets will replace those removed from the park during World War II to be melted down for the war effort.

Additionally, the grant money will fund the restoration of some of the parks 1,300 most ailing monuments. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held when the tablets are delivered, said McMillin, at which the top administrations of the NPS will be in attendance and Gov. Haley Barbour will be invited.

“We’re very happy to make this contribution and help them get the grant,” said VCVB Executive Director Bill Seratt. “The military park is the attraction that set the stage for Vicksburg to evolve into a tourism economy.”

On Thursday the board also approved a $1,500 contribution to the 2008 Rally On the River Against Child Abuse at Rainbow Casino this weekend to benefit the Exchange Club of Vicksburg.

The VCVB is composed of members appointed by local governments. It receives 1 percent of the total sales at larger restaurants and bars and from rooms rented by the night to spend on tourism development and operating a welcome center on Clay Street near the park’s main entrance.

The Vicksburg National Military Park is older than the National Park Service, having been created by Congress in 1899 to preserve much of the Civil War battlefield here.