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Mississippi cultural group raising funds to open arts pavilion in Vicksburg

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Members of the Mississippi Commission for International Cultural Exchange with a "porcelain princess."

The Mississippi Commission for International Cultural Exchange held a reception Aug. 26 at the Mississippi Barbeque Company (700-798 Grove St.) to provide details about funding the construction of the proposed Mississippi International Arts Pavilion in Vicksburg.

MCICE Chairman Blake Teller thanked hosts Ashley and Dale Jennings, owners of the Mississippi Barbeque Company. He then passed the torch to MCICE Executive Director Jack Kyle who went into detail about the pavilion’s purpose and the impact it would have on the City of Vicksburg.

MCICE executive director Jack Kyle having a discussion about the MS International Arts Pavilion. Photo by Gabrielle Terrett for Vicksburg Daily News

“The City of Vicksburg has donated the land to us for this pavilion,” Kyle said. “The land they have given us is located near the Vicksburg Convention Center, basically in the downtown area. This will bring more revenue to the city because there are local shop owners, restaurant owners and people who live in the downtown area.”

“The building is projected to cost about $30 million dollars,” he said, and indicated that the cost was within the parameters of other cultural structures recently built in Mississippi. Kyle also introduced the Porcelain Princess statutes as a fundraising tool for project.

“Now the purpose of these Porcelain Princess statues—we have a limited edition of thirty of them—is trying to get them placed around the city to raise awareness and funds for the Mississippi Arts Pavilion,” he said. “Hopefully people will see them and ask, ‘What’s that all about?’ and that would give us an outlet to talk about our plans to build the Arts Pavilion and how we’re raising the funds to do so by selling these pieces for $2,000.”

Porcelain Princess. Photo by Gabrielle Terrett for the Vicksburg Daily News.

Kyle stressed the importance of the pavilion being located in Vicksburg and provided specific reasons why the city is the best candidate for the site.

“We feel that this Pavilion will be a tremendous success in Vicksburg because Vicksburg is unique in the state,” Kyle said. “This city is home to one of the largest tourist attractions in the state of Mississippi, the Vicksburg National Military Park which brings in about 650,000 annual visitors.

“Secondly, we’re located on the Mississippi River and have all these passenger riverboats, and I understand that by 2020 about 50,000 visitors are expected to come into Vicksburg on those riverboats.

“Thirdly, we’re on a major interstate corridor between Atlanta, Ga., and Dallas, Texas. The population of those two major cities and all the towns on the interstate-20 corridor is about 20 million people, so that’s going to be one of our major target areas as well.”

The MCICE plans to have another reception focused on informing the public about the pavilion and also selling copies of the porcelain princess. The event will take place Sept. 6 at 5:30 p.m. and will be hosted by the McRaven Tour Home (1445 Harrison St.).

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Trustmark donates $50,000 to the Vicksburg YMCA

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Left to Right: Christian Easterling, Mary Ellen Montgomery, Isiah Young, Victoria Young, Oliver Love (photo courtesy Phillip Doiron)


Trustmark Bank has donated $50,000 to the Vicksburg YMCA for its capital campaign which included a building expansion.

Trustmark announced the donation Wednesday on its Facebook page.

‘Tis the season for giving! It is an honor to support our local Junius Ward Johnson Memorial YMCA’s capital campaign…

Posted by Trustmark on Wednesday, December 2, 2020

“‘Tis the season for giving! It is an honor to support our local Junius Ward Johnson Memorial YMCA’s capital campaign efforts to better serve the Vicksburg community, and we are thankful to our friends at the Y for all they do!” the bank wrote.

In 2018, the YMCA launched a $4 million expansion campaign which included building a new basketball gym and adding a new fitness area. CEO Phillip Doiron said it also included a new play area for children.

Trustmark has now donated a total of $75,000 to the YMCA for the expansion. The money will go to good use in helping the Y better serve the community.

The YMCA has been in its Clay Street location since 2002 when it relocated from downtown Vicksburg. Most of the construction is complete, and an indoor playground will be added shortly thanks to community donations such as those from Trustmark Bank.

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Vicksburg entrepreneurs got the basics of business ownership at boot camp

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Kendra Reed and Willie Johnson were among the dozen entrepreneurs attending the Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp. (photos submitted)

Last week participants graduated from the first Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp where 12 individuals received information to start or expand their own businesses.

Myra Harris, who recently started a company making masks, joined the boot camp shortly after her grandchildren informed her of the opportunity.

“They provided all the resources you would need to start your business, and they also made themselves available after class just in case you had any questions,” Harris said.

Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp participants. Top L to R: Marcus Dufour (Vicksburg Warren Partnership), Tim Sanford, Cathy Sanford, Olivia Foshee, Amy Warren, Patricia Anderson, Willie Johnson, Myra Harris, Ginger Donahue (Regions Bank) and Pablo Diaz (Vicksburg Warren Partnership). Bottom L to R: Gwen Green, Kendra Reed, Rob Burnham (Instructor), De’Jonae Curtis and Anthony Curtis. Not pictured William Wooten. (photo courtesy Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce)

Retired businessman Rob Burnham facilitated the class and helped the participants plan out their businesses, assisting with marketing, accounting and distribution. Marcus Dufour and Pablo Diaz from the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce hosted the class, bringing in successful entrepreneurs as speakers including Kevin Roberts who owns Fit Chef Catering in Vicksburg.

“Every speaker gave us the opportunity to ask questions, and it definitely gave me the information I need to open a business, and I would recommend the class 100%,” said participant Willie Johnson.

Johnson was born and raised in Vicksburg. He’s now retired from the military and looking to launch a consulting business, which is what led him to attending the boot camp.

By having capable individuals at the boot camp such as James Harper from the Small Business Development Center at Hinds Community College, the participants were able to learn about available grants and other resources for entrepreneurs.

Starting a business can be stressful for first time entrepreneurs, but the boot camp provided planning advice to the participants, breaking down the information that participants need to launch their businesses.

“In the business process of starting and running a business, owners get very busy running the day-to-day aspects,” said boot camp participant Kendra Reed. “Entrepreneurship Bootcamp gave me the chance to step back and plan through the whole process to prepare my new company to be successful.”

Reed is the owner of Delta Dirt Shirt, and she was proud to be a graduating member of the camp.

Now that the camp has ended, the participants are in competition for a $1,000 seed grant for the best business plan presentation. A winner will be announced Dec. 8.

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Fun Lanes bowling alley has reopened

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(photo by David Day)

Fun Lanes bowling alley in the Uptown Vicksburg mall has reopened.

The bowling alley closed earlier this year after former General Manager Patrick Belden unexpectedly died as a result of a car crash. While the bowling alley has the same owners, they have made some improvements. A statement on the Uptown Vicksburg Facebook page explained:

“Fun Lanes Bowling has made renovations and is now under new management. Fun Lanes wants to let everyone know that they have a renewed goal of being a family-friendly, safe location for the people of Vicksburg and the surrounding area to come out and enjoy the sport of bowling. Fun Lanes at Uptown Vicksburg, come on out and check us out. You will be glad you did.”

(photo by David Day)

The bowling alley had become a hotspot for police activity due to the large crowds that gathered there for late-night, weekend DJ parties. While the parties were a major success and there were almost no problems reported inside the bowling alley, the large crowds outside sometimes became disruptive.

Tony Lemus, Fun Lanes acting general manager (photo by David Day)

“We are committed to a family friendly atmosphere and look forward to providing Vicksburg with a great, fun and family friendly atmosphere” said acting General Manager Tony Lemus.

The hours of operation have changed. Fun Lanes is now open Mondays through Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from noon to midnight, and Sundays from noon until 9 p.m.

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