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Natchez aldermen reappoint Newsome to school board
from Staff Reports - NEWS
February 24, 2017 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – The Board of Aldermen voted for Thelma Newsome to continue serving as a Natchez-Adams County school trustee.

In a 4-2 vote Thursday, aldermen reappointed Newsome to the school board amid previous reports that she was being ousted.

While Newsome has said she wanted to continue serving on the school board, Mayor Darryl Grennell earlier this month sought other applicants. However, as of Thursday, no one had come forward. Alderman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis -- who opposed Newsome’s reappointment -- said more time should be allowed for applicants interested in being considered. However, other aldermen said Newsome was a dedicated school board member who should not be unseated.

“If it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it,” said Alderman Felicia Irving.

Newsome’s current term expires next Tuesday.

Joining Irving for reappointing Newsome for another term: Aldermen Sarah Carter Smith, Ben Davis and Dan Dillard. Arceneaux-Mathis was joined by Alderman Billie Joe Frazier in voting against Newsome.

Newsome is one of five members of the Natchez-Adams School District Board of Trustees. Three are appointed by the Natchez Board of Aldermen and two are appointed by the Adams County Board of Supervisors.

Newsome is currently the longest-serving NASD board member and the only one remaining from 2014, when the Board of Aldermen then voted to fire all three of its school board appointees in a dispute over how the schools were being managed. That attempted purge was later invalidated because state law doesn’t allow school board members to be ousted in midterm unless guilty of a felony or public corruption.

Newsome’s reappointment comes as the Board of Aldermen is asking the state Legislature to enact a law for school board members to be elected by Natchez-Adams County voters rather than appointed. A bill specifically for this died earlier this month, but it could be revived before the Legislature ends its session in April.

Among other actions taken Thursday, the Natchez Board of Aldermen:

-- approved an agreement with the National Park Service to continue leasing part of the Natchez Visitor Reception Center. The Natchez National Historical Park uses about half of the city-owned building for its offices and tourist facilities. The federal government will pay Natchez about $120,000 this year for using the visitors center.

-- heard FOR Natchez (Friends of Our Riverfront) plans to hold meetings next month for drawing up ways to enhance downtown. FOR Natchez has raised private funds for a public initiative to spawn ideas and designs on how to revitalize downtown from Broadway Street overlooking the Mississippi River to the historically black section of town anchored by the "triangle" intersection of Martin Luther King and St. Catherine streets. Urban-design expert Phil Walker has been hired to coordinate this.

FOR Natchez leader Chesney Doyle said Walker and his team will meet with various focus groups March 6. A 6 p.m. meeting for the public will held that day at the Natchez Convention Center.

-- licensed Natchez Grand Hotel owner Warren Reuther to operate double-decker, open-top tour buses in Natchez. They will make daily runs carrying tourists around Natchez to stop and visit various spots. Reuther said three buses will begin running next Wednesday. His company currently operates sight-seeing buses in New Orleans.

-- closed the public out of discussions about the federal lawsuit former Natchez tourism director Kevin Kirby filed against the city after the board fired him last year. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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