MissPres News Roundup 1-17-2012

Wow! We’re already into the 3rd week of January.  I know our friends at MDAH are busy this week – National Register Nominations will be considered at their Review Board meeting on Thursday and their Board of Trustees meets Friday – probably with some Mississippi Landmarks on the agenda.  We’ll see what news comes out of these meetings for the next round up, but here’s what we have this week:

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Saw a couple of stories about the Mississippi Mound Trail signs starting to go up around the state.  Most of these will be along / around Hwy 61 and, according to the Hattiesburg American, “will include up to 30 selected mound areas that are visible from the road and clearly marked by signs with information about each location.”  Archeologists should NOT fear that these signs will lead to looting of the mounds as most will not be at the actual sites.  Only sites already open to the public (such as Winterville) will have signs right by the mounds.  Besides the articles in various news outlets, you can also get more information on the Mound Trail from MDAH’s website dedicated to the project.

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A follow-up to the Hotel Reed fire story from our last roundup – the Sun Times reports that crews in Bay St. Louis started using some heavy equipment to clear debris near the area where the fire is suspected to have started.  Investigators still suspected arson as the cause, but a partial collapse of the building is preventing their access to the storage room.  The clearing of debris part of the story doesn’t worry me as must as the news that the building has partially collapsed since it makes it that much more likely that the Hotel Reed will be demolished.

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Another fire-damaged building was in the news recently – this time in Hattiesburg where the American reported that Old High School project plans are on hold (again).  The story cites the sluggish economy as the latest reason for delays.  The “ambitious project” to turn the building into an Arts Center for USM has “seemed to be cursed with setbacks – including an arson fire” but those involved are still optimistic about seeing the project happen.

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Last summer, we learned that the US Postal Service was interested in closing several Post Offices around the country – included the one in Downtown Columbus.  The Dispatch brought the story back up this week – updating readers on the situation.  A moratorium issued in December delays any closures until May – and the Columbus community is rallying support to keep the Downtown Post Office open.  One of the reasons citizens want the Downtown one open is that it’s in the historic district.  As this issue picks back up in the coming months, we’ll keep an eye on what our friends in Columbus do – and see if there is anything the rest of us Miss Presers can do to help support their efforts.

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New out of Natchez is that the City will purchase the Brumfield Apartment building (formerly Brumfield School) – which was abandoned about a year ago and was in foreclosure proceedings.  From the Democrat story: “Mayor Jake Middleton said after the meeting he believes the city will pay the outstanding balances on the building and then sell it to be developed as affordable housing.”  As usual, the Democrat comment section is interesting – and most of their readers aren’t too happy about the situation.  I just hope that the building doesn’t suffer even more from deferred maintenance while the city looks for a new developer / owner for the property.

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Saw a story in the Enterprise-Journal that has me scratching my head.  According to the story, a property owner in Liberty is unhappy with the way MDOT is handling the survey of a suspected cemetery site that could be affected by the planned four-laning project for Hwy. 24.  The property owner has filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office – but nothing in the story makes it clear where MDOT is in error.  The MDOT officials the reporter talked to were also shocked by the property owner’s action as they believed they have been communicating with him about what they needed to do to verify if the tract has the old cemetery (as local residents have said).  Most of the conflict seems to be about the size of MDOT’s survey area, the about of time the survey will take (a couple of days in the field) and apparently the fact that a consultant hired by the property owner was not on hand the first day MDOT was there.  The end of the article says that some rescheduling is being worked on.  I know preservationists have had some conflicts with MDOT (*coughs* Church Street *coughs*), but I think they’re doing everything right in trying to find out what is there – and then determine how that might change their plans.

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It doesn’t seem like the story in Liberty is to the Section 106 step yet – but a couple of other projects in news around the state are.  Up in DeSoto County, the Times Tribune reports that “State Department of Archives and History officials are urging that AT&T officials revisit their plans to erect a a proposed 195-feet telecommunications tower on the site of an 1863 Civil War clash” near Hernando.  Locals agree with MDAH on this one – and are hopeful that something can be done to prevent the adverse effect that the tower would have.  A hearing is scheduled for February 6 – and we’ll be sure to follow it and report any compromises on this issue.

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The other Section 106 related story involves the school buildings in Smithville where School officials await direction from MDAH on their plans for the site – and if demolition or construction can begin.  According to the piece, this is one of the items on the agenda for MDAH’s Board of Trustees later this week – so I’m sure we’ll have a chance to follow up on it in the next round up.

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To wrap up this week – a couple of nice “fluff” pieces. The “Then & Now” series that has been running in the American looks at the Sangaer Theater in Hattiesburg and the Dispatch looks at the “Most Interesting” buildings in Columbus.  Both are fun reads – and I very much prefer these stories to bad news (so I hope to see more of them in the coming year).



Categories: Bay St. Louis, Civil War, Columbus, Cool Old Places, Demolition/Abandonment, Hattiesburg, Hernando, Historic Preservation, Hotels, Liberty, MS Dept. of Archives and History, Natchez, News Roundups, Post Offices, Schools, Theaters

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