Summer has really heated up in the Magnolia State, and we have a few really hot stories in the news this week. A quick reminder before we dive into the news, don’t forget that the Vicksburg Poll closes on Friday.
Big, big news out of Gulfport regarding the Markham Hotel. According to an article in the Sun Herald this week, the City Council voted unanimously to take the property through the state’s eminent domain laws – including spending up to $30,000 on appraisals, which must be submitted to a special court of eminent domain. The current owner has been promising to rehab the building, but he has done nothing except request condemning the building and for more time to put together a development deal. The Markham made MHT’s 10 Most List this past year and MissPres contributor Tom Barnes weighed in on the situation in a lengthy post that has received a lot of comments. This will probably remain a hot story – and I hope that in the end it means that this once grand hotel finds its way off the Endangered List and back into use on the Coast.
The Sun Herald also picked up a story out of Vicksburg (and originally run in the Post) about the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad (aka Levee Street) Depot. Despite having had 4 feet of water in the flood earlier this year, the news is that the restoration will be complete in October. Once completed, it will house a transportation museum and the offices for both Vicksburg Main Street and the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.
South Delta Regional Housing Authority was back in the news this week when the Director and one of the contractors faced federal charges connected to all the shady dealings of SDRHA. The Director had faced some charges earlier this year, which I thought I’d heard about, but can’t find where we mentioned it. This time, however, it was BIG news in the Greenville paper which outlined details of all eight charges against her, as well as the three against the contractor. Charges include embezzlement, coercing witnesses, lying under oath, taking kickbacks, and lying to FBI agents. Some of the story has been picked up by other news outlets (such as here in the Clarion Ledger), but I urge you to find a copy of the Delta Democrat Times if you can – it’s a “truth is stranger than fiction” kind of read. For some of our back story on our interest in SDRHA, check out posts here and here.
In Columbus this week, the Dispatch had a couple of follow up stories to ones we mentioned last week: Southside is closer to being designated as a local district (but not there yet) and the HPC is also starting an effort to keep the Downtown Post Office open. I don’t know if the building has to keep operating as a Post Office (but those living in Columbus have a better feel for that than I do) – I just hope that if it has to close, that the USPS will arrange for the building to have a use and not sit vacant for years to come.
Finally, a lot of news sources have picked up the Civil Rights Sites Grants that MDAH announced a couple of weeks ago (and we ran as a post). Of course, Mississippi papers, such as the Sun Herald picked it up, but so did papers in places like Kansas, Indiana and Michigan. I liked seeing Mississippi Preservation
Categories: Civil Rights, Columbus, Depots, Grants, Gulfport, Historic Preservation, Hotels, MS Dept. of Archives and History, News Roundups, Preservation Law/Local Commissions, Renovation Projects, Vicksburg