State's oldest industrial building added

to Corinth's Historic Preservation District

By Jane Clark Summers

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH - The oldest industrial building in Mississippi is another step closer to preservation following the Corinth Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday night.

The board adopted an ordinance designating the Corinth Machinery Building and grounds on South Tate Street as a historic landmark and added it to the Downtown Historic Preservation District.

Chris Chain, owner of Renovations of Mississippi, Inc., said the board's action enables him to seek 20 percent tax incentives, thereby reducing the costs of renovations. Chain purchased the 23,000-square-foot building and surrounding .9 acres from American Iron and Metal of Montreal, Quebec, earlier this year.

"I hired a guy a week ago to take out bushes against the building and remove trees growing out of it. We've covered the windows and basically prevented future deterioration," Chain said during a phone interview.

"I hope to have an organization operating out of the first floor along with a museum or something that is a tribute to the industrial area of Mississippi," he continued.

The second and third floors of the proposed multi-purpose building would contain residential housing.

In other business, Ray Austin, who had asked to be on the agenda to promote local industry, postponed his discussion. Austin did comment, however, that he felt the city and county are in dire need of jobs. He commended Mayor Jerry Latch for attending a recent meeting with state economic development leaders.

The board also heard budget requests from Main Street Corinth, the Northeast Mississippi Museum, Corinth Area Tourism Council and the Curlee House.

$3,000 increase sought

Museum director Kristy White requested $21,055, an increase of about $3,000, to help provide more staff to help during the renovation process and move to new quarters at the depot. The museum expects the move to coincide with the opening of the new Civil War Interpretative Center in 2004, which is also the city's 150th anniversary.

Tourism director Emy Wilkinson said the two percent tourism tax is expected to bring in $662,000 next year. By law, the tourism council gets half of that amount and the remainder goes to pay off arena construction bonds. The council is helping the city plan for the opening of the Civil War Interpretative Center.

Main Street president Becky Phipps, who requested $25,000 for 2003, the same as last year, said the downtown support organization is dedicated to preserving heritage, promoting residential and business development downtown. "You cannot recruit business and industries without a vital downtown," she said. "Your downtown area is the heart of the town."

Curlee House Preservation Commission chairman Sonny Boatman asked the board to increase last year's budget of $31,000 by $10,000 to provide match money for a $30,000 state grant. The grant will be used for an interpretive room and film to enhance tourism opportunities, he said.

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