Leadership changing at VNMP

Published 9:10 am Wednesday, January 28, 2015

ACTING SUPERINTENDENT: Bill Justice, named this week to succeed outgoing VNMP superintendent Mike Madell.

ACTING SUPERINTENDENT: Bill Justice, named this week to succeed outgoing VNMP superintendent Mike Madell.

Vicksburg National Military Park will be getting a new leader next month as the park’s current superintendent is leaving for the Northeast.

The last day for VNMP superintendent Mike Madell is Feb. 6, and acting superintendent Bill Justice will take over Feb. 8. Madell is transferring to Acadia National Park in Maine after just over five years in Vicksburg.

National Park Service Regional Director Stan Austin announced the leadership change this week, saying that Justice will temporarily replace Madell.

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“Bill is an experienced superintendent who has shown great skill in managing unique park issues.  I know he will bring great leadership and energy to Vicksburg National Military Park, as we conduct the search for a permanent superintendent,” Austin said.

Under Madell’s leadership, the park has expanded its public offerings, completed its foundation document, restored areas of the 1863 battlefield and celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Siege of Vicksburg.

Maine is about a thousand miles from home for Madell, but it’s a more familiar climate.

“I’m a northerner, born and raised in Michigan and then college in Minnesota,” Madell said.

Justice is currently superintendent of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Hogenville, Ky., and he has previously worked at Natchez National Historical Park.

“I am excited to be returning to western Mississippi,” Justice said. “I look forward to supporting the talented Vicksburg National Military Park staff and the park’s community partners during this transition.”

A National Park Service veteran of more than 30 years, Justice has held positions in interpretation, law enforcement, and management at several National Park areas. Among other parks that he has served are Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Fort McHenry National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

The leadership change is the latest in a string of retirements and transfers for Vicksburg’s top tourist attraction. VNMP Chief of Operations Rick Martin retired in July, and in the past five years, historian Terry Winschel, administrator Rosie Wince and maintenance supervisor Jerrel Cooper have all retired from the park.

Founded in 1899, the park is designed to commemorate the 47-day Siege of Vicksburg in 1863 as well as interpreting events leading up to and after the battle. The 1,806-acre park is one of the most well marked Civil War battlefields in the nation. There are more than 1,400 monuments maintained along the 16-mile tour road.