State Granting $500K For New Stuart Center

This appeared in The Neshoba Democrat - April 9, 2014

 Additional state funds have been granted for the proposed Marty Stuart Center in Philadelphia.

Mississippi lawmakers are moving ahead with plans to borrow almost $230 million, which includes $500,000 for the Stuart Center.

House and Senate members passed two bills authorizing the state to sell new bonds. House Bill 787 and Senate Bill 2975 were sent to Gov. Phil Bryant for his consideration and are awaiting his signature.

Stuart met with local officials and the project's architect last week in the former Coca Cola building, which will serve as a warehouse for the Stuart Center after it is renovated.

"There's no doubt in my mind that the day will come when a ribbon will be cut and the doors of this center will be open to the world," Stuart said.

"I will count it a joy when Philadelphia takes its rightful place alongside of the other Mississippi towns on the museum trail, opening day will be a great day. But April 2, 2014, is also a great day for me personally. I'll always consider it to be the day my dream of the Marty Stuart Center and Congress of Country Music Hall started to become a reality - I thank the state of Mississippi, the city of Philadelphia and all the Neshoba County officials who have worked so hard to bring this to pass."

District 18 state Sen. Giles Ward of Louisville and District 44 state Rep. C. Scott Bounds were excited about the additional $500,000 in state funding for the Stuart Center.

"It was an honor to work with Representative Bounds in helping secure the $1.5 million in bonding authority to begin this exciting project in Neshoba County," Ward said.

"I also thank Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Speaker Philip Gunn and Gov. Phil Bryant for their support of this project. I'm not sure that everyone realizes how many requests there are each year for this type funding. These requests are submitted by members of the Legislature from all across the state. And while most, if not all, of those projects are worthy of consideration, it's simply impossible to include them all within the omnibus bonding authority.

"It is a testament to Marty Stuart and the residents of Neshoba County that the leadership of this state recognizes the remarkable contributions of our native son and what this magnificent center will mean to our area and, indeed, the entire State of Mississippi. I couldn't be more excited and feel honored to have played a part in helping get this project underway."

Bounds agreed.

"It's great to see the progress that is being made on the Marty Stuart Center in downtown Philadelphia," he said.

"Marty's commitment and involvement in seeing this project come to fruition is a testament of dedication to his hometown. Myself, Sen. Giles Ward, the members of the Mississippi Legislature, Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Speaker Philip Gunn have seen that this will be a venue that will attract people from all over America and the world, and are proud to have provided $1 million dollars in the 2013 legislative session and $500,000 in the 2014 legislative session toward its completion. I am honored to be working with Marty and the community leaders in seeing that it becomes a top notch addition to our city and county."

The Industrial Development Authority of Neshoba County will open bids on Tuesday at 2 p.m. for the renovation of the historic Coca-Cola building, which will serve as a warehouse for items for the proposed Marty Stuart Center.

The bid opening will be in the Board of Supervisors room on the second floor of the courthouse.

IDA is administering an additional $1 million in state monies awarded by the legislature in conjunction with the center which would house Stuart's vast collection of Country Music memorabilia, including some belonging to such stars as Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Sr.

IDA hired E. Bowden "Skip" Wyatt, of Foil Wyatt Architects & Planners PLLC, in January to design the warehouse which will house items from Stuart's collection as they are changed throughout the year at the center.

Once the renovation of the building is complete, the remaining monies could be used to help purchase a suitable building to house the actual center.

Vowell said items from Stuart's collection would be changed from the warehouse to the museum in order to attract visitors on a continual basis.

While officials have looked at several buildings to house the proposed center, a final decision has not been made.

The Marty Stuart Center stems from the Mississippi Country Music Commission which called Stuart's collection "a living history of Country Music" which would be "the heart of a center" in Philadelphia.

Stuart, a Neshoba County native, said the center would be a combination of a museum, theater and classroom.

While the center would house the collection, the theater would be for small performances.

The classroom was described as a place for "oral histories."

By Debbie Burt Myers

Return To Articles Return To Home Page