MissPres News Roundup 3-19-2012

Google tells me that the first day of Spring is tomorrow – but judging by the layer of pollen on my car, I’d say it started weeks ago.  Hope everyone is getting out and taking advantage of the warm (but not hot) temps to see some cool places!

Since our last round-up, our friends and Natchez have been playing host to visitors for their Spring Pilgrimage.  As expected with such a major to do in the city, there have been several stories related to annual event:  The Democrat ran a story for the kick off, one on getting everyone ready, and one about the last minute prep.  On Friday, the story was that numbers were down for the first week – but Pilgrimage runs through the middle of April, so there is still plenty time for things to pick up.  I went this year – and the group size seemed good to me, so maybe the nicer weather started getting people out and about to see the houses.

Down on the Coast, there was a story that an old laundry building (the story gives the building date as 1923) in Gulfport will be converted into something called Café Climb – which “will feature a culinary-training and job-placement program for disadvantaged youth.”  They had a “re-breaking” of the ground to signify the start of work on the downtown building.  The cafe will include a full menu for patrons – so it sounds like we’ll end up with another great food option for when we’re down on the Coast.

Also in Gulfport, a follow-up to the demolition controversy over the old Gulfport Colored High School, known as 33rd Avenue School. According to the Sun-Herald article “Job Corps Center’s $23 million construction project cancelled in Gulfport” the Job Corps has decided to move its federal money to other projects because they couldn’t come to an agreement with all parties, including the City of Gulfport, the alumni group, and the Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History:

The Job Corps project will retain $4.4 million in DOL funds already appropriated to begin anew the planning and design process, a department spokesman said. The other $18 million in funding will be returned to federal Job Corps for construction projects.

“Basically, we start over at this point,” DOL spokesman Michael Wald said. “We are still committed to a brick and mortar training facility in Gulfport, a Job Corps Center in Gulfport. Because we could not come to an agreement with interested parties, everything sort of starts over.”

As you may recall, this story first popped up last summer after Job Corps announced its intention, after 6 years of leaving the school buildings unrepaired from Katrina, to demolish the entire historic campus and build new. The property is leased from the City of Gulfport. The alumni group and MDAH protested that they had been left out of this process, and now, given this article. There was a public hearing, finally, in February, as we noted here on the News Roundup, but it looks like no compromise could be reached. Not sure where this story goes from here, and it’s a shame that all the interested parties weren’t brought into the process a lot earlier so that these buildings could have already been fixed up.

Also down on the Coast, was a story about the Fete La Pointe celebration held in Moss Point and raising money for the restoration of the La Pointe-Krebs House in Pascagoula.  This year’s gala – which is organized by the Jackson County Historical and Genealogical Society – was extra special this year because it was the bicentennial of the County.  Since the celebration is connected with the La Pointe-Krebs House, the article notes that restoration work “should start soon.”  Since that will be a big story on the Coast, I’m sure we’ll know when “soon” becomes a reality.

In Jackson, the story is that the Redevelopment Authority and the Farish Street Group have entered into a  non-binding agreement where JRA will loan the developers $10.2 million and the developers are putting up $11 million in historic tax credits as collateral.  Once the two sides close the deal (which could be done as early as May according to the article), it will still take at least 12 months to finish construction.  Hopefully, this will be a good thing for the project that has had too many stops and starts.

Categories: Cool Old Places, Gulf Coast, Gulfport, Heritage Tourism, Historic Preservation, Jackson, Mississippi Landmarks, Natchez, News Roundups, Pascagoula, Renovation Projects

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