New Mississippi Welcome Center to be named after the late Dick Hall

Published 4:23 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2023

A new Mississippi Welcome Center is in the works with a special tribute to a Vicksburg native, Central District Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons said Monday.

Contracts will be signed for the Dick Hall Visitor Center in October, Simmons told the Warren County Board of Supervisors. He added a word of thanks to the county and the City of Vicksburg for working together to secure state legislature funds to assist the project.

“It will be referred to as the Dick Hall Visitor Center. We’ve been working with the (Board of Supervisors) as well as (Mayor George Flaggs Jr.) on that project,” Simmons said. “The legislature gave us a few dollars, and we (MDOT) are taking some of the money that we have, and we will have a really nice visitor center.

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“We are really excited about this project.”

Hall, who died in November 2022 at age 84, was Mississippi’s longest-serving transportation commissioner. He was appointed to the position by then-Gov. Kirk Fordice in 1999. He served three terms in the Senate and three terms in the House, representing the Jackson area in the Legislature. Hall retired from his position as transportation commissioner in 2019.

Simmons said the vision for the new welcome center, located at 4210 Washington St. overlooking the Mississippi River, involves a larger building footprint and a museum detailing the history of Vicksburg and the way the city is intertwined with the river.

Board President Kelle Barfield said she hoped the new welcome center will have revised opening hours to accommodate interstate travelers.

“Hopefully, I hope it is a really nice place that will be opened more frequently,” Barfield said. “Currently, they are closed on Sundays and Mondays, which is when you’ve got interstate travelers.”

Simmons assured Barfield that the Dick Hall Welcome Center would be open more frequently, adding that he hopes it will increase revenue in Vicksburg by motivating tourists to visit the city.

Barfield also said she looks forward to seeing construction begin, sharing a far-off dream with Simmons and her fellow board members.

“I don’t know if it’ll happen, but there’s a group trying to get the U.S.S. Vicksburg to town since the Navy is decommissioning it,” she said. “I can just see looking out the glass of the Dick Hall Center at the U.S.S. Vicksburg, and what a tourist attraction that would be.”