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Natchez board bans circus animals performing at City Auditorium
from Staff Reports - NEWS
January 15, 2018 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – The Board of Aldermen is prohibiting a circus from performing at City Auditorium amid concerns about the abuse of animals.

The board voted Friday to quash the circus’ plans next month to use the city-owned facility. Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell pointed to complaints raised by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) about the use of circus animals.

Natchez tourism director Jennifer Ogden Combs said Friday she’s been contacted by PETA representatives opposed to the circus coming to City Auditorium.

PETA campaigns against the capture and training of animals, such as elephants, that allegedly are beaten to force them to perform dangerous, uncomfortable tricks, such as standing on their heads or on small pedestals.

The auditorium on Jefferson and Canal streets is owned by Natchez but leased to a church, which has conducted services there since 2013 and is contracted to manage the facility. However, city officials have questioned whether the church group is living up to its lease requirements in maintaining and managing the facility for public gatherings. The mayor and aldermen held a closed-door meeting in November to discuss whether to sue the church.

The Board of Aldermen in 2013 leased City Auditorium to Christ Life at the River for the church to use and to also maintain as a venue for various events, such as the annual Historic Natchez Tableaux. Revenues generated from the church’s lease and renting it to other groups was to be used for City Auditorium’s upkeep. However, Grennell said Friday he didn’t know of any lease payments received since he became mayor in 2016.

To ensure the city gets funds due from City Auditorium, the board on Friday voted to require all money from renting it out be sent to City Hall.

While the church has spent its own money for improving City Auditorium, questions remain about whether that fulfills what the city should be paid for leasing it to Christ Life. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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