Community rallies to keep VNMP open

Published 7:11 pm Thursday, January 3, 2019

Our community is known for stepping up when it matters most and the last couple of weeks have certainly shown that commitment to helping.

The current partial government shutdown that has affected not only the livelihood of thousands, it has also had an adverse effect on the economy. But thanks to the efforts of Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign and the generous donations of its members and others who have given from their own pocket, the VNMP remains open to visitors who spend their money in our hotels, restaurants and businesses.

Approximately half a million people visit the VNMP annually, which translates into millions of dollars for the local economy. A recent economic impact study indicates that for every $1 spent in operating costs for the VNMP results in $10 for the local economy and region.

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Bess Mitchell Averett, executive director of Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park & Campaign, said it is estimated to cost $2,000 per day to keep the VNMP open at minimal level. It has cost the organization $24,000 to date for the gates to remain open at the VNMP.

“The local community has really come through for us to help us in our efforts,” Averett said. “An incredibly impressive thing is the number of donors who have given us $25, $50, $100 from all over the country to support the effort of keeping our park open.”

Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and aldermen Mike Mayfield and Alex Monsour have also put their money where their mouth is in declaring the city of Vicksburg will match donations up to $2,000 per day to keep the VNMP in operation during this time.

“We do not have unlimited resources, so it was very important to us and really huge for Vicksburg that the mayor and aldermen and the city have stepped up and is willing to match those donated dollars to ensure we don’t have to close the park,” Averett said.

How much longer this now two-week long partial federal government shutdown continues is anyone’s guess as President Trump and Congressional Democrats continue to wait on the other to give in.

But we do know our city politicians and members of the local private sector and business community will do what is necessary to work together to make this time as less difficult on our community as possible and welcome visitors to enjoy the hallowed grounds of the Vicksburg National Military Park.