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Local officials kick start tourism train initiative

DAILY LEADER / NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / Meadville Mayor, Lane B. Reed gathers with invited guests in Meadville for a press conference announcing their combined plans to purchase a passenger train to travel between Natchez and Brookhaven through Bude and Meadville.

DAILY LEADER / NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / Meadville Mayor, Lane B. Reed gathers with invited guests in Meadville for a press conference announcing their combined plans to purchase a passenger train to travel between Natchez and Brookhaven through Bude and Meadville.

Thursday, city officials from Brookhaven, Meadville, Natchez and Bude gathered together on the Meadville courthouse steps to hold a press conference to introduce legislation directing the Mississippi Development Authority to take bond money to purchase a passenger train to run between Natchez and Brookhaven. Also in attendance were other elected officials including Representative Bobby Moak and Representative Becky Currie.

Titled the Southwest Mississippi Tourism Train, the train will shuttle visitors or residents from Brookhaven to Natchez passing through Bude and Meadville.

Meadville Mayor, Lane B. Reed, said the initiative came from a partnership between the mayors of all the cities involved in an effort to increase tourism and take advantage of the natural resources available in each of the cities. Among the resources the mayor and other speakers there mentioned was the Ole Brook Festival in Brookhaven.

“People can go to the festivals in Brookhaven then come to Natchez, and experience, what I like to call ‘The Twin Cities,’ Bude and Meadville on the way,” Moak said.

Natchez Mayor Butch Brown spoke extensively about the benefits of such a project.

“It’s not an expenditure, it’s an investment,” he said.

Brad Jones, director of the Meadville Chamber of Commerce, shared in Brown’s sentiment saying for every dollar of tourism the city gets six dollars and 64 cents. Although Jones said it took some convincing for him to understand the mayor’s passion regarding the project, he asks that everyone allow their imaginations to run a little with the idea to see the possibilities embedded in the investment.

“What’s good for Natchez is good for Meadville and what’s good for Meadville is good for Bude and what’s good for Bude is good for Brookhaven,” Reed said at the closing of the ceremony regarding the benefits that could result from the connection between the towns.

“Lane is passionate,” Brown said, “and it takes that kind of passion to get something like this done.”