September 8, 2019 12:03:41 AM
This letter is in answer to the Letter to the Editor about the Terry Brown Amphitheater written by Leroy Lollar. The Dispatch's publication of the letter appears to be an attempt to avoid accountability for inaccurate reporting. The results could cause public loss of understanding of City government.
The letter-to-the-editor in last week's Commercial Dispatch, concerning the Amphitheater is filled with more false statements than true ones. Here are the facts, not the innuendo based on wrong information. First, the Amphitheater is not "dead in the water." That is a false statement. Phase 1 was completed as planned with the available funds from the state. Phase 2 will begin once funded.
Second "our fair city" did not spend $3 million on the project. That is a false statement or is at least very misleading. The State of Mississippi completely funded it with the sole purpose of building the facility. That money could only be used for the Amphitheater project.
The Amphitheater was flooded during the February disaster. The claim that the city paid $124,606.75 for electrical repairs at the Amphitheater is false. The repair work is now out for bids. The $124,606.75 was only an estimate of the repair cost. During the FEMA inspection last month, electrical damage was documented and accepted by FEMA. This means the city will be reimbursed 87.5 percent of the damage cost once the final approval is granted.
The claim that mud and debris have not been cleaned up is also false. FEMA inspected the Amphitheater last month to see and even measure the mud and debris. Once FEMA completed its documentation, hundreds of pounds of mud and debris were removed. They are gone. Final cleaning will be completed once underground electrical work is done, to avoid doing the work twice at twice the cost.
Regarding security at the facility, it is foolish to publicly discuss City security measures. That would only help those that seek to vandalize the property. The statement that "... the grounds look like an area from a third world country at the worst or a Baltimore slum at best," borders on profane. Making fun of third-world countries or parts of America populated by those that struggle each day is reprehensible and insensitive. This statement also appears to violate the Dispatch's request to maintain "constructive and respectful" speech.
I will continue to dissect the false and/or misleading statements published in this newspaper, whether they are letters to the editor, articles or unsigned editorials of the Dispatch.
I hope this newspaper will print these letters to better inform the citizens of both sides of the story.
Public Information Officer
1. Ask Rufus: The Long Ride of Samuel Edmondson LOCAL COLUMNS
2. Roses and thorns: 9/15/19 ROSES & THORNS
4. Cartoonist View: 9/15/19 NATIONAL COLUMNS