• 73°
franklin county times

Meridian chosen for arts center

By Staff
SELECTION  Mayor John Robert Smith, left, is presented with a letter from Paul Ott informing him that Meridian has been selected as the site for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center. Photo by Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Dec. 21, 2000
Meridian lost the first round in the battle for a proposed Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center to Jackson in April, but took round two Wednesday as the selection committee reversed its earlier choice.
Paul Ott, chairman of the committee, gave Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith the good news Wednesday afternoon but also voiced reservations about how construction of the $35 million facility would be funded.
City officials were first contacted about presenting Meridian as a possible site in October 1999. Smith said his team never gave up the effort, even when a Stennis Institute recommendation swayed the committee to name Jackson as the site.
Smith said he was surprised on Wednesday to hear that Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Lester Spell Jr. had requested a meeting. His questions gave way to exhilaration as Spell and Ott presented him with a letter announcing Meridian as the site for the center.
Ott commented on the selection process.
Ott said committee members gave Jackson officials a Dec. 15 deadline to propose a site for the center. When city officials failed to propose one acceptable to everyone, the selection committee unanimously voted to award the facility to Meridian.
The center was originally billed as a state-funded project, but Ott said other revenue sources may have to be tapped for its construction and operation.
The center could eventually support itself, Ott speculated, without financial backing from the state.
Ott said members of his committee "swooned" when they saw the Bonita Lakes site.
City leaders lobbied legislators with a weekend retreat to Meridian in October. Smith said the effort paid off when several lawmakers "encouraged" members of the selection committee to consider Meridian.
The mayor pledged that the city would be a good custodian for the state's art center and said it could rise to "national significance."
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

News

US-43 traffic lights in front of Walmart malfunctioning

News

Ivey announces $500,000 grant to improve Red Bay water lines

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Eric Reason

News

Community Spirit Bank welcomes new employee

News

Pilgrim’s sponsors Russellville Public Library summer reading program

Franklin County

First ‘Canada Phil’ visits Phil Campbell, adds sign to post

Features

National scholarship propels one Russellville student into Ivy League

Belgreen

Belgreen presents ‘Beauty and the Beast’

News

RCS Education Foundation holds annual banquet

Franklin County

Partnership Banquet highlights Franklin County accomplishments

News

50th Phil joins PC signpost

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Jerry Fancher

News

RHS ranks 21/386 for Alabama high schools in U.S. News & World Report

News

RHS FLBA students compete at state

Galleries

RMS students perform ‘Aladdin’

Franklin County

PHOTOS: NWSCC Phil Campbell campus presents ‘Shrek the Musical’

News

Russellville Main Street welcomes new executive director

News

BTCPA announces final production of season

News

Wynette Grammy finds home at Red Bay Museum

Franklin County

Northwest Shoals receives $1.3M to enhance rural healthcare education

Galleries

PHOTOS: RHS Musical Theatre presents ‘The Wizard of Oz’

Franklin County

Northwest Regional Library announces audiobooks by mail program

Franklin County

Republican primary run-off election for county commission seats takes place April 16

News

Historic Roxy Theatre celebrates 75th Anniversary with upcoming entertainment

x