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Among the goals and objectives established early in the study was to ensure full public participation and awareness in the study and to receive public comments and concerns throughout the study. To that end, a series of public meetings to discuss the process and reveal findings have been held. The media in Choctaw County has been briefed and a series of Decision Support Laboratory sessions conducted by the Social Science Research Center conducted in August. Efforts are currently underway to conduct a more extensive county-wide survey to attempt to identify unidentified issues and concerns of the citizens throughout the county.
Increasingly, many federal and state agencies, county economic development authorities, developers, engineers and others in the Southeastern United States have expressed a strong interest in having an easy to use tool to assess the water quality and quantity impacts of proposed developments. In the Summer of 2004 the Environmental Protection Agency (Region IV), the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality funded a multi-disciplinary team at Mississippi State University to undertake a proof of concept project to develop such a tool. The tool was then applied to the American Eurocopter industrial site under development in Lowndes County, Mississippi. Afterwards, the tool’s results were compared to those an existing proprietary tool developed for the site. Those results were subjected to a peer review process. The peer review validated that the concept was proven on the Eurocopter site and the resulting tool was named Latis after the Celtic goddess of clean water and ale.
A Pilot Project to Link Inland and Coastal Management in the Tenn-Tom to Mobile Bay Basin
The overall goal is to facilitate more effective engagements between key inland and coastal management institutions in the Tennessee-Tombigbee - Mobile Bay Basin and to identify and integrate priority geospatial information. By creating a basis for sustained collaboration on data and decision making for the Tennessee-Tombigbee - Mobile Bay Basin, upstream and coastal communities would have a mutual benefit, Mobile Bay’s estuarine research and protection needs would be highlighted, and the Tenn-Tom Waterway’s purpose and role in regional economic development would be recognized. These effective engagements would serve as a model to apply in other inland-coastal basins in the northern Gulf coast and the Southeastern Atlantic regions
In search of ideas to spur economic development in northern Madison County, the Madison County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA), led by Executive Director Tim Coursey and Board Chairman Barbara Gray, sponsored a bus tour of the Tellico Reservoir area for community leaders from northern Madison County. The tour of the Tellico Reservoir, which is located in a largely rural area south of Knoxville, TN, took place on November 15 and 16th. The thirty member Madison County delegation included elected officials, government representatives, farmers, educators, as well as many other civic and community leaders from the northern portion of the county. The group, which also included State Senator Joseph Thomas and State Representative Ferr Smith, dedicated the two days to exploring potential economic development ideas for northern Madison County.
The Upper Pearl River – Watershed Advisory Group’s (UPR-WAG) focus area includes a watershed that drains areas of land in twelve Mississippi counties: Attala, Choctaw, Hinds, Kemper, Leake, Madison, Neshoba, Newton, Rankin, Scott, Smith, and Winston. This area includes the entire Upper Pearl River/Yockanookany Watershed and a portion of the Middle Pearl/Strong Watershed (Hydrologic Unit Codes - 0318001 and 0318002, respectively). The UPR-WAG’s activities aim to improve overall watershed health within its geographic focus area by helping protect surface water, ground water, and drinking water. The UPR-WAG supports:
- Broad stakeholder involvement,
- Recreational, environmental, and economic development activities,
- Sustainable and improved habitat, fish and wildlife diversity, and watershed resources, and
- Development, operation and maintenance of recreational facilities and activities consistent with good watershed management practices.