Mayor’s topics at Chamber luncheon range from Mrs. Trump to wanting the Vicksburg bridge

Published 6:57 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. called on city leaders to get involved in the city and help its efforts to grow and develop.

“That’s what we need from each of you — to start leading from your prospective positions so we can move this city forward,” he told members of the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce Wednesday. “This city is being called on like never before.

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“If you want to help me, say something good about Vicksburg. Each of us has to have a commitment to the city,” he said.

“The only time I hear anything negative about Vicksburg is when I come across the Big Black; it’s the  people from Vicksburg and Warren County.”

Flaggs said everywhere he has traveled people give him positive comments about the city.

“We have to believe in ourselves; believe that we can be anything we want to be when we set our minds to it. We’re being creative in the city; we’re opening it up,” he said.

Flaggs also used his time to discuss projects and plans for the city’s future, sending a message to the Warren County Board of Supervisors, which recently indicated they were willing to take offers for the Old U.S. 80 bridge, which some residents want opened as a pedestrian bridge over the Mississippi.

Looking at a photo of Interstate 20 bridge displayed on a screen, Flaggs said, “That’s not the bridge I wanted. The older bridge is the one I wanted. If it’s for sale, I’m not buying, but if you’re giving it to me, give it to the city.

“If you’re selling it, I’m not buying, but if you’re giving it to us then we’ll open it up for you.

“I take challenges face on, and anybody who works with me will tell you I don’t take challenges lightly.”

He highlighted the Mississippi Hardware building, which he called a game changer for downtown.

“It’s a technology incubator and a graduate institute,” he said. “That’s where we can hang our hats on the future of downtown because it’s going to create more jobs than you’ve ever seen before in the city of Vicksburg.”

He said the city’s downtown area has grown since his first term, pointing out formerly empty buildings were now occupied and the area is growing.

“Did any of you ever think we would have a parking problem downtown?” he asked.

Flaggs also went over his proposed 10-year capital improvements plan that would be financed by a 1 percent sales tax. The main project is the intermodal port on the Mississippi River that he said would create 500 jobs for the area.

“We’re talking about one cent,” he said. “I don’t raise taxes on nobody. I’m asking you to raise it on yourselves.”

He said the tax proposal will go before the Legislature at its next session.

Flaggs closed with one last challenge. Discussing a proposed international art museum for the city, he said Jack Kyle, executive director of MSIAP, wants to bring First Lady Melania Trump to Vicksburg for a fundraiser for the museum.

“He has given me a big challenge,” Flaggs said, adding he will call President Trump about having his wife come to Vicksburg.

“I’m also going to ask him for another favor,” he said, referring to the money for the port.

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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