August 21, 2011 12:36:00 AM
TUPELO -- Two regional meetings are being held in August to gather input for the federally-mandated Management Plan for the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area (MHNHA).
"These meetings are part of a broader process for developing the plan, which will guide the management of the heritage area over the next 10 years," said Kristy White, executive director of the Corinth Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and president of the Mississippi Hills Heritage Area Alliance, the legislatively-appointed local coordinating entity for MHNHA.
"Our heritage area is one of only 49 National Heritage Areas, which are charged with conserving and interpreting some of America''s greatest cultural, historic and natural treasures," White commented.
The first meeting will be from 10 a.m. until noon on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at the Renasant Center for IDEAs, 398 E. Main St., Tupelo.
The second meeting will be from 10 a.m. until noon on Wednesday, Aug. 24, at the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority headquarters at 318 7th St. North in Columbus.
Agnes Zaiontz, business manager of the Development Authority, offered to host the meeting in support of the planning process. "Columbus is a key community within the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, with tremendous heritage assets. The Tenn-Tom Waterway is also a major resource for the region, and it is important for both Columbus and the Waterway to be represented in the planning process," Zaiontz stated.
Stakeholders and the general public are invited to attend these meetings, which will introduce participants to the project and solicit public input on various related issues, including potential impacts of the Heritage Area on existing cultural and natural resources.
The meetings are not restricted to residents of Tupelo and Columbus, and interested persons from surrounding communities are invited to attend. Two previous meetings were held at the end of June in Oxford and Starkville for the same purpose.
The meetings will help to fulfill federal legislative requirements for the Management Plan, as well as compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. Sessions will be conducted by Phil Walker of the Walker Collaborative in Nashville, Tenn., in cooperation with MHHAA staff.
Contact Project Coordinator Kent Bain for additional information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-844-1276.
The MHNHA was designated by Congress and the president in April 2009. Although its exact boundaries are spelled out in its enabling legislation, the borders are, roughly, the Tennessee and Alabama state lines to the north and east, and Interstate 55 and Highway 14 to the west and south.
MHNHA covers 19 full counties and portions of 11 others. For more information, visit mississippihills.org.