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Is a dog park in city’s future?

Leadership Vicksburg is applying for a grant to develop a dog park at the Vicksburg Municipal Airport.

Leadership Vicksburg is an annual program sponsored by the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce to give community and business leaders a deeper understanding of the critical issues affecting Vicksburg and Warren County. Under the program, the participants in each year’s group must develop a project for the community.

Chamber spokesperson Lurline Simmons said Leadership Vicksburg is seeking a $20,000 grant from for the park from PetSafe, a company that manufactures electronic pet safety devices and markets accessories for pets. According to its website, PetSafe is giving out a total of $275,000 in grants for dog parks, nationwide.

“We have a month to complete our application and get it in, and we need the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to give us their support,” she said. “The bids are competitive and other groups are applying for it.” According to the company’s website, one Mississippi city has so far received a grant, Hattiesburg.

“We took a look at the city and brainstormed and bounced ideas back and forth, and the dog park kept coming up,” Leadership Vicksburg member Benjamin Baugh said of the decision for the park. “It was one of the things Vicksburg didn’t have.

“Vicksburg is a quaint beautiful town but a lot of people don’t have large tracts of land where they can let their dogs run, and the idea appealed to animal lovers.”

He said the group discussed the idea with Shape Up Vicksburg founder Linda Fondren, who said it was a good idea.

“Dog ownership is growing, and there are a lot of people here who don’t have enough room to let their dogs get a lot of exercise, and there are tourists who visit our city who travel with their dogs and would like a place to exercise them,” said Josh Dixon, another Leadership Vicksburg member.

“This gives them a place where they can let their dogs get exercise and meet new people at the same time. It will be a good addition to the city.”

Simmons said the group has been working on the project since August.

The 1-acre park, she said, will be located near the city’s community garden and will be surrounded by a 6-foot fence, with separate areas for large and small dogs.

“There will be posted rules and guidelines to follow, and an area for unleashing dogs.”

She said the grant will be used to pay for the fencing, benches and water sources that will allow a dog to get a drink of fresh water an another spot where they can “maybe just get their feet wet.”

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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