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Town eyes retirement designation

Monticello may soon be recognized as a certified retirementcommunity by the state, the town’s mayor said.

“This is huge,” said Mayor David Nichols. “We would be thesmallest town on the list of certified communities in Mississippi.That says a lot about the town and the people who live here. Thisis quite a coup to even be invited.”

The list of certified Mississippi communities numbers just 18,in addition to the Mississippi Gulf Coast as a region, according tothe Mississippi Development Authority, which oversees theprogram.

Brookhaven, McComb and Natchez are the only otherrepresentatives of southwest Mississippi.

The certified retirement community program was established in1994 and was only open to invited communities for one year. This isthe first time the program has been reopened since it wasestablished, said Diana O’Toole, who manages the HometownMississippi Retirement program for the MDA.

“We’re reopening the process to everyone who had expressed aninterest,” she said.

Monticello and Lucedale were the only communities in southwestMississippi to receive an invitation to join the program, O’Toolesaid.

In all, 26 towns across the state received invitations, shesaid. The number that will actually be able to join the program islimited.

“At this point, I don’t have a number,” O’Toole said. “We stillplan to restrict who can join. It’s a pretty strict program. Wedecided to open up the program to see which of the 26 can meet thecriteria.”

Communities have to show a fierce commitment to the retirementcommunity to even be considered, she said, and the certifiedretirement community designation is not easy to get.

“It loses its desirability as a designation if there are toomany entries, and we want to make sure we are showcasing the bestof the best,” O’Toole said.

Nichols said he is confident Monticello can achieve theprogram’s requirements.

Towns will be notified by Nov. 30 if they have been approved toadvance to the second phase.