Local leaders travel to D.C. to meet with elected leaders

Published 8:52 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The success of Vicksburg was heard last week in Washington, D.C., when members of the community traveled to the nation’s capital to meet with Mississippi’s congressional delegation.

Linda Fondren with Shape Up Mississippi and Michele Connelly with the United Way of West Central Mississippi had the opportunity to meet with senators Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker, as well as congressmen Steven Palazzo and Bennie Thompson to highlight community-led health initiatives that have received national recognition and sparked improving the well-being of residents.

In 2017, Vicksburg received the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize, which recognizes innovative efforts to improving health. Vicksburg is the first community in Mississippi to win the coveted award.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Fondren also had the opportunity to participate in a Capitol Hill briefing where she shared insights on how Vicksburg came together to rally around education improvement and how it sparked momentum that also helped to fuel downtown revitalization and job development in the city.

“Five years ago, our vacancy rate in the downtown historic district was at 65 percent,” Fondren said. “Now, it is only four percent with an increase in more restaurants, museums, retail and residential space, while also drawing more tourists.”

Some of the highlights Fondren pointed out include:

• In the past five years, the graduation rate among students in the Vicksburg Warren School District has increased from just more than 58 percent to 72 percent.

• The community invested in the future of children by passing an $83 million bond referendum that will fund major renovations, upgrades and expansions to schools in the district.

• The Vicksburg National Military Park has embraced the partnership with the community in promoting the theme “our shared history, our shared community, our shared health,” increasing physical activity, bridging the racial divide and decreasing obesity.

• Several new walking trails, a community garden, a skate park and improvements to neighborhood parks have created additional opportunities for physical activity.