City’s Little Rock delegation leaves us with much to be proud of
Published 4:22 pm Tuesday, November 12, 2019
It’s not every day you get to spend time outside of a professional setting with the people who make our city tick.
Last week I had the opportunity to join the city of Vicksburg on a familiarization tour of Little Rock, Ark. What we learned about Little Rock’s development of their downtown riverfront in building parks, biking and walking trails, an outdoor amphitheater, public displays of art and opening multiple bridges to pedestrian traffic was truly amazing.
It goes without saying Little Rock and Vicksburg have some differences. Perhaps the largest is in population, with Little Rock being a city of 200,000 people compared to Vicksburg’s 23,000. It was interesting that despite the large difference in population, Little Rock has dealt with similar challenges to Vicksburg in developing its downtown and riverfront area, and has found solutions that, while on a larger scale, could work here just as well as they did in the Arkansas state capital.
Mayor George Flaggs Jr. represented Vicksburg well, both as our mayor and as a former legislator, asking pointed questions and challenging some Little Rock officials who raised taxes to fund initiatives. Vicksburg has much potential, in Flaggs’ opinion, under our current tax structure. Flaggs’ fiscally conservative philosophy and ingenuity in finding ways to implement new projects without raising taxes is appreciated.
Visit Vicksburg Executive Director Laura Beth Strickland did an excellent job coordinating and managing the trip’s schedule, which was jam-packed with ten meetings in about a 22-hour time span. Her ability to juggle multiple items at once and the intuitive questions she asked of Little Rock officials were impressive.
The same goes to say for Vicksburg Convention Center Executive Director Annette Kirklin, who manages multiple events throughout the year from the Miss Mississippi Competition to Ritz on the River, and the Vicksburg Main Street Program team of Kim Hopkins, Linda Fondren and Debbie Haworth.
One of the more discerning takeaways from the trip came from Vicksburg Convention Center board member, real estate agent and local developer Mary Jane Wooten. While she was impressed with Little Rock’s numerous walking and biking trails and public displays of art, she noticed something Vicksburg has that Little Rock doesn’t.
“The buildings we saw were nowhere near as pretty as ours,” she said. “Our buildings are very architecturally beautiful and historic. When you go to our downtown, it’s the architecture that wows you. If we can couple that with what they did in their outdoor scapes, in my opinion, we would have a better product than they do.”
As we move into the 2020 calendar year, I hope we see the city and county work together to allow officials to implement some aspects of the riverfront development we were exposed to in Little Rock, like the public displays of art, walking and biking trails and the pedestrian bridge. If I know one thing for certain, it’s that we are blessed with a talented group of folks running the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau and Main Street Program. With the support of dedicated volunteers behind them, there is much opportunity and success in the months and years ahead for Vicksburg and Warren County.
Catherine Boone Hadaway is publisher of The Vicksburg Post. She can be reached at email@example.com.