Ridgeland firm wins bid to staff, maintain Corps’ museum

Published 12:01 am Saturday, August 18, 2012

Set to open Friday, the Lower Mississippi River Museum and Riverfront Interpretive Site will have contract staff for its daily upkeep.

Service Specialists Ltd. of Ridgeland won a contract to provide staff and interpretive services and to maintain the building, boat and grounds at the $23 million facility, according to a press release Friday from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District Friday.

The annual contract is worth $305,000 and has an option for one-year extension, the release said.

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A crew of about 10 people will work at the facility on a daily basis, project officials have said. Three workers will be full-time employees, including two former Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau employees, said Deborah Martin, co-owner of Service Specialist. Sherry Jones, former group services manager with the VCVB, will manage the museum, Martin said.

Pat Millett, also a former VCVB employee, will greet the public once the museum is open, Martin said.

A grand opening ceremony is set for 9 a.m. Friday. Its central attraction is the retired MV Mississippi IV, where exhibits will simulate life aboard a towboat and piloting the vessel on the river.

In the main building, a mural of Vicksburg’s riverfront circa 1910 adorns a wall. Other indoor exhibits simulate how the river’s movement over time since 1775 has created oxbow lakes between Mississippi and Louisiana and one that tells the story of cultures on the river from the 17th century to the 1950s.

Children will be allowed to play on a scale model of the river between Greenville and Natchez, which is being installed behind the main exhibit hall. It will hold about 2 inches of water to represent normal stages and about 5 inches to represent a flood.

Ground was broken for the center in 2009. The concept began in 1995, when the city purchased the retired towboat for $1. The title was returned to the Corps in 2007, when the vessel was slow-rolled down Washington Street to the museum site at Washington and Jackson streets.