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Natchez board plans to buy $938,000 fire truck
from Staff Reports - NEWS
October 23, 2018 - ListenUpYall.com

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – The city’s new fire ladder truck costing nearly $1 million could be delivered from its Louisiana manufacturer by next summer to replace the old, substandard one now used by the Natchez Fire Department.

The city Board of Aldermen on Monday approved acting Fire Chief Ventris Green’s request to move forward on purchasing the vehicle from Ferrara, a fire-truck maker based near Baton Rouge. The vehicle is priced at about $938,000 and is far superior to the 1990s model that doesn’t comply with current fire-rating standards, Green said.

A new aerial-ladder truck is essential to ensure the city can adequately fight fires and restrain property insurance costs for Natchez homeowners, according to city officials.

Natchez aldermen decided earlier this month to borrow $750,000 from the Mississippi Development Authority and another $350,000 from Concordia Bank and Trust Co. to pay for the fire truck.

Green said four fire-truck manufacturers were considered as the NFD shopped for a new one. Ferrara bested the others partly because its Louisiana factory is close to Natchez in case of needed repairs in the future. Green said the custom-built truck could be delivered to Natchez in about six months. The vehicle will be a combined ladder and water-pump truck, which the old fire truck is not. Green said it’s not certain if the old truck is viable enough to sell. It’ll remain in service by the NFD for the time being, he said

Ferrara boasts of providing fire trucks to cities near and far -- such as Shreveport, Laurel, Detroit and New York.

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The public was closed out of most of Monday’s meeting of Natchez’ six aldermen and Mayor Darryl Grennell. City attorney Bob Latham said their closed-door session was about personal health insurance issues, personnel in the city clerk and mayor’s offices and the potential lease of the old Broadway Street railroad depot. City officials want the city-owned empty building brought back to use.

The city restored the 108-year-old structure’s exterior in 2016, but aldermen put on hold finishing the interior amid controversial plans by hotelier Warren Reuther to lease the building and make it a tourist center. The Board of Aldermen cancelled the lease with Reuther after he had already begun refurbishing the building’s interior.

The board voted in February to publicly seek proposals from developers on what they could do to the 1910 depot, but aldermen stalled making the formal request for proposals. They have met in closed-door sessions to discuss in secret the details of getting the publicly owned building fully renovated and back in use.

Among the suggestions offered by consultants is to convert the former train station into public restrooms and a dining establishment overlooking the Mississippi River. The board earlier this year adopted plans conceived by FOR Natchez, a private group pushing to revitalize downtown Natchez. The depot formerly housed a restaurant and a tourist souvenir shop before its restoration.




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