Vicksburg, Warren County get $5.2 million in state funds

Published 3:58 pm Friday, April 15, 2022

The city of Vicksburg and Warren County received more than $5.2 million in state funding for projects in the budget approved by the Mississippi Legislature during the session that ended on April 7.

“It was a productive year all the way around for the local communities but I think it was an amazingly productive session,” State Sen. Briggs Hopson, R-Vicksburg, said. “In many regards, it was a very difficult session but one of the most productive sessions maybe in the history of the state when you consider the phenomenal teacher pay raise and the tax cut, and the investment in bridges and roads — infrastructure, including water and sewer, and also schools. It was a pretty amazing session.”

“We were fortunate enough to pass the largest tax cut in Mississippi history while still being able to fund projects that Warren County needed and will benefit from,” State Rep. Kevin Ford, R-Vicksburg, added.

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Vicksburg’s share of state funding from the Legislature totaled $3.75 million, with $3.5 million going toward riverfront improvements and $250,000 for new lighting at the Sports Force Parks on Mississippi sports complex.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and Ward 2 Alderman Alex Monsour, who is over recreation, said the lights will be installed at two ball fields at Sports Force that presently are not lighted.

“This will allow us to bring in more teams and will provide more practice area for our local teams when there are no tournaments,” Monsour said.

“The Legislature this year has been great; we walked away with probably more money in a year than ever in the history of this city,” Flaggs said as he commended Hopson, Ford and Rep. Oscar Denton, D-Vicksburg at Friday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Flaggs said he did not intend to spend the entire $3.5 million riverfront money on one project.

“We have every intention to collaborate and work with the riverboats that are coming in,” he said. “We want to be able to take that (development) and go beyond the Klondyke. There’s a strip of land that belongs to the county and see if they will give us the easement to develop that.”

After the meeting, Flaggs said he will recommend the city “put up to $2 million into the new (Riverfront) park and the remaining $1.5 million on the riverfront area to enhance the development by the cruise lines, which have leased sections of the riverfront from the city and developing landings for their boats.

Warren County receives $975,000 from state legislature

In addition to the sum awarded to the city of Vicksburg, Warren County was also awarded funds to address three key projects.

The county received $75,000 for repairs to the Brunswick Circle Levee and $650,000 for costs associated with upgrades and improvements to the historic Old Courthouse and grounds. Board of Supervisors President Kelle Barfield said the funds will allow the county to complete much-needed projects in a more timely manner.

“This is indeed an unusual period of resources for funding of critical needs here in Warren County. Several of these projects, such as the restoration of the Courthouse wall, are quite expensive and they’ve been in need of repair for several years,” Barfield said. “But we were hopeful and optimistic, and we’re pleased to see that now when you combine what the state’s allocated with what the Mississippi Department of Archives and History has given us, we have three-quarters of a million dollars to go toward that repair.

“Most people can’t fathom how expensive it is to do things like pave a road or repair a century-old wall that’s historic in nature,” she added. “It really was cost-prohibitive, and yet we kept our eye on the ball and knew we had to do something about it, because it’s such a rich asset here in Warren County.”

The Bovina Fire District also received $250,000 for the purchase and renovation of an existing building near Ceres Site B into a new fire station.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors previously approved the purchase, and on Monday will allocate $325,000 for the purchase of the property, pending reimbursement of $250,000 from the state.

Barfield said the construction of the fire station will benefit residents in multiple ways.

“It not only addresses the need for a fire station in a much more cost-effective way with a considerable percentage of that cost being allocated through state funds; it also allows the fire department to construct a satellite station where they can store equipment at Ceres, which keeps residents’ fire ratings as healthy as possible,” she said.  “My hat is off to the men and women who provide these services, mostly at no cost to taxpayers because these are mostly unpaid responders. They not only put their lives on the line for us, but they also devote significant hours to training, which is another aspect of keeping our ratings low which keeps our insurance costs low as well.

Barfield said she was especially thankful for Mississippi State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney, Sen. Briggs Hopson and others who understood the need and “made sure the state was willing to address those needs.”

The Warren County Port Commission was also awarded $500,000 in state funding for defraying expenses for environmental and permitting costs.

Pablo Diaz, President and CEO of the Vicksburg-Warren Partnership, said the funding is key to progress on the new South Port, located off of U.S. 61 South.

“This funding is of great importance to the development of the South Port Complex and we are excited to see that the legislature understands the importance of the project for the State and for our region,” Diaz said. “Our community is well served by the extraordinary work done by Sen. Briggs Hopson and our local State representatives. As a community, we are lucky to have leadership that works together and is aligned at all levels of Government. This funding award is in part a reflection of how communities can succeed when they work together to build a common vision.”

Nearby Issaquena and Sharkey counties also received allocations from the state legislature.

Issaquena County received $1.5 million for costs associated with the construction and repairs of the Mannie Road Bridge. Sharkey County received $1.5 million as well, to pay for costs associated with the construction and repairs of the Low Water Bridge Road Bridge.

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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