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Mayor’s Veterans Council meets for first time

NATCHEZ — Leaders of veteran organizations and local officials came together Tuesday at Natchez City Hall for the first meeting of the Natchez Adams Veterans Council.

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said the purpose of the gathering is to boost support for Armed Service men and women and their loved ones by getting representatives of various organizations at the same table.

The council’s membership includes Grennell; Home With Heroes president and founder, Mark LaFrancis; Adams County Board of Supervisors president, Ricky Gray; Veterans of Foreign Wars Natchez post representative, John Floyd; American Legion No. 4 representative, Steve Nelson; Seeds of Change Resource Foundation coordinator, John West; Seeds of Change founder and president, Carolyn Myers; Natchez National Cemetery director, Bob Winkler; VFW Auxiliary president, Vickie Stowers; U.S. Army Recruitment Officer Seargent First Class William Ellis; and Natchez Veterans Service officer, Sonjagela Johnson.

One benefit of bringing all of those agencies together, Grennell said, is having them to sign off on any request for local, federal or state funding needed to support veterans.

“Natchez and Adams County have a population of about 30,000 people collectively,” Grennell said. “It just makes good sense for all of these organizations for veterans to work together. While we’re bringing everyone to the table, we need to make sure we look at the needs we have in Natchez and Adams County for our veterans and their loved ones so that when I go or Supervisor Gray goes to Washington, D.C., or Jackson to meet with our legislators, we know that we can have bills placed that help our veterans along the way.”

Several other long and short-term goals were during Tuesday’s meeting as well, such as restoring the veterans’ monument in Memorial Park, purchasing reusable wreaths for the annual Wreaths Across America ceremony at the Natchez National Cemetery and replacing and properly retiring flags at public facilities.

The council decided to meet the first and third Tuesday of every month going forward to discuss and report back the various needs and events in the area that pertain to servicemen and women and their families.

LaFrancis said volunteers would be needed soon for picking up and disposing of the wreaths at the Natchez National Cemetery starting at 9 a.m. on Jan. 18.

“The more volunteers we have, the faster we can get it done,” he said.

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