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Margaret Martin to get repairs ahead of May music festival

NATCHEZ — Damages to Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center incurred in a January break-in should be repaired ahead of the Natchez Festival of Music scheduled for May, officials said.

During Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen, Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard said money from an insurance claim on the building had been received.

City building and maintenance manager Jody Rutter said the total insurance claim was for a little over $21,400 worth of damages caused when squatters allegedly broke into each room in the building and removed copper plumbing fixtures and wire sometime before mid-January.

The city has a $5,000 deductible and received approximately $16,400 for the repairs, Rutter said.

Dillard said damages to the building’s plumbing should be repaired well ahead of an April 15 deadline for the Natchez Festival of Music to begin stage set up and rehearsals. The Festival of Music uses the auditorium of the building as the venue for some performances during the festival.

Festival of Music Chair Diana Glaze said the first musical event for this festival season is scheduled for May 2.

“It’s the best news we’ve had since the discovery of the break-in,” Glaze said of City officials getting the damages repaired. “We’re hopeful and confident that Mr. Dillard will do everything he can to get us set for the music festival.”

Margaret Martin, built in 1927, is a Gothic Revival and Tudor style structure that is part of a long-term $7 million renovation project that a group of locals hope to do to the building on designs by Architect Belinda Stewart of Eupora.

The group, called Friends of the Natchez Centre, is currently campaigning for both public and private donations to the building’s rehabilitation, which includes updating the bathrooms, adding wheelchair access ramps, replacing the roof and repairing the 93 years worth of wear and tear to the masonry and structure itself.

Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to the Friends of the Natchez Centre or the Natchez-Adams Community Alliance at 173 U.S. 61 South, Natchez, MS 39120 or made online at www.natchezcentre.com.

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