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Changing Clarksdale; Delta Bridge event set for Oct. 12
Oct. 12 is being promoted as the day that changed Clarksdale. But organizers say it will take an outpouring of community support to make it all come together.
Coahoma County citizens will get its opportunity to learn more about the Delta Bridge Project, a vision Southern Bancorp executive Joe Black launched six years ago in neighboring Phillips County, Ark., when the steering committee holds a community kickoff 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Pinnacle on the campus of Coahoma Community College.
The Delta Bridge Project, funded by the Walton Foundation, focuses on five basic goals: education, housing, economic development, leadership and health care.
Black has designated Lois McMurchy, senior community development officer at Southern Bancorp, to manage the project. She came on board June 1 after leaving her former role as executive director of the Coahoma County Higher Education Center.
McMurchy said Wednesday that the Delta Bridge Project should “create a sense of excitement in the community about the possibilities for Friars Point, Coahoma, Jonestown and countywide.”
McMurchy said the Delta Bridge Project offers the county “the greatest opportunity for the people to make changes for the better.”
McMurchy said through Capital Partners, the non-profit arm of the banking institution, Southern Bancorp could “leverage $100 million.”
Willis Frazer, vice chairman of the steering committee, called the project “one of the best opportunities that Coahoma County has had or will have to turn our communities around.”
Frazer said of the five objectives, improving public education has been his biggest concern in Coahoma County.
“Public education is a serious problem – not just in Coahoma County – but nationwide,” Frazer said. “The Delta Bridge Project will give Coahoma County the golden opportunity to take a close look at public education to see what changes we can make for the betterment of educating these young children.”
Hal Fiser, who is also serving on the 15-member steering committee, called the project “one of the most important things we have done in many years.”
Fiser saw Coahoma County at a crossroads “to survival from an economic standpoint and socially as well.”
Fiser said the project is comprehensive enough to impact “every citizen in the community.”
Fiser implored citizens to turn out for the program.
Black, president of Southern Bancorp Capital Partners, recapped some of the accomplishments since the Delta Bridge Project was launched six years ago in Phillips County.
“We have seen the demolition of more than 350 dilapidated structures, the construction of a 25-unit apartment complex, the creation of a sweet potato distribution plant, development of a biodiesel manufacturing facility and the growth of the Boys and Girls Club (of Phillips County) reaching out to more than 500 youth,” Black said.
Black said during the past six changes he and others pledged to the project in Phillips County had witnessed physical changes.
“There are still a number of political, social and economic hurdles to overcome,” Black said.