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Wesson supports camp for terminally ill children

Chronically ill children have a special place in the hearts of the Wesson Board of Aldermen. That’s why they unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday to support a summer camp for them to be built in Copiah County.

Jeff Knight, a Mississippi’s Toughest Kids Foundation board member, explained to the aldermen the purpose of the organization. 

“Mississippi’s Toughest Kids was the brainstorm of Dan Kitchens, the son of the Supreme Court Judge Jim Kitchens,” he said. “Dan had childhood cancer, and during his childhood, he very much enjoyed going to Camp Rainbow.”

Camp Rainbow is a five-day camp in Mississippi dedicated to pediatric cancer patients and survivors. In his adult life, Kitchens wanted to create a place for all chronically ill children to come and enjoy.

“He has a passion about developing a place in Mississippi like none other,” Knight said. “(The board) has worked to create a master development plan. As the Legislature comes to meet and various grant opportunities come up, we wanted to ask each municipality and county to pass this resolution that indicates ya’ll’s support whole heartedly.”

The foundation plans to use each resolution passed as an attachment on grant applications in order to acquire more funding for the foundation’s facility, Knight said.

“We found 326.39 acres out in the New Zion community (in the northwest portion of Copiah County), and have actually bought it,” he said.

The site for the camp was selected based on its proximity to Jackson.

“It’s close enough to Jackson that we can get the terminally patients to participate in the camp, Knight said.

The foundation has already paid for 275 of the nearly 327 acres, he said.

“We’re down to the nitty gritty of getting the land paid off and once that is done, if we can keep the contributions up, we’ll be able to move forward with some facility construction,” he said.

Plans for the camp include a totally equipped infirmary and a dining hall for up to 350 children.

“We have a tentative commitment from the naval command center on the Coast to send a unit up here that will do all of the land shaping, build the lake and some of the facilities,” Knight said.

He expects 120 to 300 Seabees from the Naval Construction Battalion Center to be in the county with their equipment for six to eight months.

“Just that within itself would be a big contribution economically,” he said.

The total cost to build the camp is estimated to be $25 million, according to the foundation’s website.

Knight said he and Copiah-Lincoln Community College President Ronnie Nettles represent Wesson on the foundation’s board.

For more information about the foundation, visit www.mtkfound.com.

In other business:

• The board approved the agenda, minutes and claims docket from November.

• The board went into executive session for personal performance issues. No action was taken.