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Natchez News

       by Peter Rinaldi


Beautiful weekend: The Great Mississippi River Balloon Race returns to Natchez Oct. 17-19, with festival activities centered on the bluff near Rosalie. Events include the balloon glow, fireworks on the river, balloon racing and live entertainment. Top performers scheduled include Ben Lewis, Bishop Gunn, Pocket Change, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Irma Thomas, The Revivalists, Soul Asylum, Hannah Belle and Josh Thompson. Advance tickets can be purchased at the Historic Natchez Foundation. For more info, call 601-442-2500 or log on to


Mansions on tour: Natchez Fall Pilgrimage continues through Oct. 13, with tours of 19 antebellum mansions and evening dinner theatre. For info or tickets, call Natchez Pilgrimage Tours at the Natchez Visitors Center, 601-446-6631.


Jobless stats: The Mississippi economy continues to be troubled this year, while Louisiana is doing better than the Magnolia State. Unemployment percentages reflect the difference. In the Miss-Lou area, joblessness remains particularly high, although the stats are a bit better than they were during the cold winter months and early spring. Right now, Adams County reports 8.1% unemployment, Jefferson 14%, Claiborne 13.2%, Franklin 8.3%, Amite 8.5%, and Wilkinson 9.9% Concordia Parish has 10.1%, Catahoula 7.7%, and Tensas 9.4%. The actual number of jobs in Southwest Mississippi has dropped significantly since a year ago, while in the tri-parish area there are 200 more jobs than last year.


Monterey murder: The Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office continues its investigation of the killing of John Wesley Perritt, 63, of Monterey. A workman found Perritt’s decomposed body and called the sheriff’s office. Deputies discovered Perritt’s car in Natchez and sent it off to the crime lab for tests. Sheriff Kenneth Hedrick said his office has increased patrols in Monterey until the suspect is identified and captured.


New projects: Developers have expressed interest in refurbishing Margaret Martin School and the Ritz Theater in Natchez. Martin could become the site for new apartments. And a theater lover is interested in rebuilding the Ritz, as the Historic Natchez Foundation may donate the building to him once construction is complete. Both developers could take advantage of federal credits for rehabbing historic buildings. The projects are still in the talking stage.


Airport grant: The Concordia Parish Airport will receive $336,700 from the FAA for safety area grading improvements. The Louisiana Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division will provide an additional $37,000 for the project. The monies will be used to improve drainage and provide a level area around the entire runway should an aircraft overrun or travel off the runway.


Bude parties: Bude celebrates its 100 years of incorporation with a mini-festival Oct. 11 beginning at 10 a.m. downtown. Vendors, craftsmen and entertainers will be included and booths are available. The event kicks off with the Great Bude Run. For more info, contact Town Clerk Marilyn Faust at 601-384-2600.


Kayak race cancelled: October’s annual Phatwater Kayak Challenge has been cancelled. Organizer Keith Benoist said that despite growing support from participants, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries interfered in the organization of the event. Benoist accused officials of ‘bureaucratic arrogance.’


No decision: Adams County Sheriff “Chuck” Mayfield requested the building of a new jail and Adams County Supervisors talked about re-roofing the jail. So far, the county hasn’t taken any formal action on a rehab project. Supervisors are still considering leasing extra office space for the sheriff.


Deficit spending: While Franklin County Supervisors passed a budget without much voter comment, their figures show the county will bring in $5.7 million in revenues this coming year and spend $7.5 million. The deficit will be made up by using existing cash balances. Franklin County will start the fiscal year Oct. 1 with an $8 million cash balance and use a little over $1.7 million of that balance through the year. Supervisors project ending the fiscal year with $6.3 million in cash.


Charter schools: Two applicants for charter schools in Natchez have withdrawn their applications before the state. Both the Phoenix Project and the Academy of Arts and Sciences Mississippi said they may submit applications for next year.


Woodville celebrates: The 2014 Woodville Deer and Wildlife Festival will be held Oct. 11 from 10 a.m-5 p.m. around the Courthouse Square. This year’s event includes an appearance by Brian “Pigman” Quaca, a wild game cook-off, a children’s village, artist demonstrations, crafts, vendors and foods, along with entertainment by Donnell Sullivan, the Veal Brothers Gospel Group, Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin’ Cajuns. Proceeds benefit the Woodville-Wilkinson County Main Street Association. For info, log on to


300 years: Harrisonburg will celebrate its 300th birthday on Oct. 11 at the Farmers’ Market. Activities are scheduled from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., with entertainment, party jumpers, food vendors, crafts and a volleyball tournament. Admission is free. Transportation from off-site parking lots will be provided. The Harrisonburg Service League is sponsoring the event. For more info, call Una Paul at 318-744-4987.


Natchez Regional: Adams County Supervisors said they expect the sale of Natchez Regional to Community Health Systems to be completed shortly. Community Health Systems hasn’t said if they’ll make any changes to either Regional or Natchez Community once it owns both Natchez properties. Supervisors have borrowed $3.5 million to cover any shortfall in liabilities and provide security for the transaction. The county hopes to get the money back in two years or less, once all bills and loans are paid and any litigation is settled.


West Nile: More cases of West Nile Virus in humans have been reported. So far this year, three cases have been documented in Adams County and one in Wilkinson County. Mississippi has reported 38 cases in 2014 and five deaths. Louisiana has 118 cases and two deaths.


Library hearing: The Concordia Parish Library in Ferriday will hold a public meeting Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. to discuss and approve the 2015 budget of the parish library system.


Just ducky: Historic Jefferson College holds it annual Ghost Tales around the Campfire and After-Dark Halloween Rubber Duck Hunt Oct. 30 starting at 6:30 p.m. Bring a blanket, chair, a bag and a flashlight. The duck hunt follows after the storytelling. Kids are encouraged to scour the area to find and keep hundreds of rubber ducks. For more info, call 601-442-2901. Admission is free.





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