Auditorium bill advances to governor

Published 11:28 am Thursday, March 13, 2014

Returning the Vicksburg Auditorium to the City of Vicksburg is closer to reality.
A bill authored by state Sen. Briggs Hopson III was filed after the Board of Mayor and Aldermen learned the city did not own the auditorium, which was built in 1956. It’s expected to be signed Monday by Gov. Phil Bryant after House and Senate lawmakers on  Monday moved it through enrolled status, according to the Mississippi Legislature’s website.
The city deeded the auditorium to the state in 1985 through an interlocal agreement with the Mississippi Commission on Natural Resources to take advantage of $1.15 million in state bond money to upgrade the auditorium.
The money had been earmarked in 1972 for the steamboat Sprague, which was destroyed by fire in 1974.
Although the agreement expired in 2010, the state never returned the 58-year-old building on Monroe Street to Vicksburg, and there were no provisions in the agreement automatically transferring ownership back to the city when it expired.
Until 2013, the building was managed by Ames, Iowa-based VenuWorks, which has the contract to operate the Vicksburg Convention Center. The city resumed management of the auditorium in October under a new contract with VenuWorks.
Transferring the structure back to the city is a key step in refurbishing the venue’s wheelchair accessibility, as well as other renovations, city officials have said.

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About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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