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franklin county times

A win, a loss and a tie

By Staff
Dec. 24, 2000
We hate to trivialize the true meaning of bowl games with petty political references especially this time of year when football is on every sports fan's menu. But perhaps sports analogies will be helpful in a review of the news from the pages of The Meridian Star over the past few days.
The win
Meridian has apparently won the battle as the preferred site for a proposed Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center. "Apparently" seems a good choice of words because someone has yet to figure out how to raise the estimated $35 million cost of the project.
How did we get so good at attracting projects for which there is no funding? Maybe we're just lucky. Or, maybe hard work ultimately will pay off. The mayor and entertainer Paul Ott seemed thrilled. Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Lester Spell seemed okay with the decision. He's the former mayor of Richland in Rankin County and very, very attuned to projects with a Jackson-area appeal.
But beating Jackson at anything these days is an event of note. And how the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State came to its recommendation that such a center should be built in Jackson when Meridian's proposal was far superior from the beginning is probably a lesson in politics we'll never fully comprehend.
Also, 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. He thinks the center designed to showcase Mississippi's incredible heritage in the arts and entertainment world could eventually support itself noting, importantly, without financial backing from the state.
City leaders lobbied legislators with a weekend retreat to Meridian in October. Now they may have to lobby for money to help showcase the "creative spirit that lives in our state," as the mayor put it.
The loss
A setback on Amtrak's overly-ambitious Meridian-to-Dallas-Ft. Worth route is not surprising.
A disagreement between Amtrak and Union Pacific over rights to use the freight railroad's tracks is blamed.
Amtrak officials announced the new line in August and projected it would be in place by last month. Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith, a member of the Amtrak board of directions, suggested the other day the dispute boils down to dollars and, perhaps, "the Amtrak staff was overly optimistic about how soon they could conclude the negotiations."
The tie
While Meridian officials claim to have rejected an apparent olive branch from Marion on a disagreement over waste treatment rates, this game isn't over. So, for now, it qualifies as a tie.
In an earlier editorial, The Meridian Star called on officials in the two towns to resolve their differences like mature adults instead of playground adolescents. Last week it was beginning to look like it was time to call the lawyers and set a court date.
Surely, negotiations can still be productive.

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