by Mickey Howley
The Unites States Army Corps of Engineers has as their motto the French word “Essayons” which literally means, “let us try.” Try and do what, you might ask? Well a whole host of engineering projects like levees, jetties, dams, spillways, containment reservoirs, river channels, inter-coastal wa-terways. The biggest one I know of impacting the greater region is the Old River Control Structure first opened in 1964 on the Mississippi River across from Wilkinson County (think Woodville) resting on the westbank in Concordia Parish, Louisiana. Old River is a water diversion project that sends 30% of the Mississippi’s total flow down the Atchafalaya River.
So, if you see the Mississippi River at Natchez that’s 100%, if you look at the river at Baton Rouge or New Orleans, you’re only seeing 70%. Why is the Corps trying to do this? I say trying because it is an ongoing struggle with “The River.” The Mississippi wants to jump master streambeds and take the shorter course to the sea via the Atchafalaya.
And were that to happen, essentially most shipping on the Mississippi would come to a screaming halt. That river is a major commerce highway for half of the country. By controlling nature, the Corps is preventing a certain economic disaster. And what they are doing is one mighty try. What might seem like a lesser “try” than controlling Mississippi, but every bit as significant to us, is damming the Yocona River.
Last weekend was the yearly Corps fish habitat and clean up action at Enid Lake. Now that might seem like a far cry from the effort to control the mightiest river in North America, but it is in the same vein. That event was part of the overall mission; the control of nature for economic stability—flood control and the added benefit of recreation.
I hear how the federal lands holdings are an economic hindrance to county development, land held for a seemingly singular use and not generating property taxes. But the flip side is the proximity to such lands and lakes can have a real economic benefit to the surrounding area. Property, if close enough to a lake, is highly desirable for residences and access to a lake that holds enough water year round really increases recreational economic activity.
In that respect, other Corps projects regions around the South are far ahead of the Tri-Lakes area. Some folks may debate the effectiveness of Corps projects—and that is always an important discussion, but the Corps themselves have a tremendous history of “trying” and succeeding. Having them in the area is a significant asset for all of us.
There is a movie coming to town—not to be seen, but to be shot on location in Water Valley. The title of the film is “Forced Move” and it is a Hitchcockesque thriller. The movie location scout looked at six North Mississippi communities as possible sites to film. The producer and director both liked Water Valley for a number of reasons, one was you can eat pretty good downtown. Shooting starts at the end of next month.
Nice to see the several new signs at town entrances about the Problem Solving Team champions from WVHS. Many towns do that for their sports champions, but very few can brag on how smart their high school students are.