Tupelo Mayor’s meeting with tribe called ‘positive’

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A meeting between Tupelo officials and the Chickasaw Nation over the northern loop produced positive results, according to a city statement released Tuesday.
Mayor Jack Reed Jr. along with several transportation officials met with the nation’s Lt. Gov. Jefferson Keel in Oklahoma this week. It was part of a long process toward building new road through west Tupelo through the Major Thoroughfare project.
The northern loop, as it’s often called, will extend Coley Road north and east to connect with Barnes Crossing Road, thereby providing another access point to the busy Barnes Crossing shopping district. It crosses U.S. Highway 78 and the Natchez Trace Parkway, and is in close proximity to Chickasaw land.
“The parties discussed ways to preserve the integrity of historic sites without impeding economic growth in the city of Tupelo,” read the statement, which was sent to members of the media Tuesday afternoon.
“The talks between the parties were very positive and Mayor Reed specifically noted the hospitality that the Chickasaw nation extended to the city throughout this process,” the statement continued. “The Mississippi Department of Transportation is drafting a memorandum of understanding outlining the intentions of the groups.”
It’s unclear what the memorandum might contain, but previous ideas for a mitigation plan included the establishment of a city fund for future projects benefiting the Chickasaws.
No other details were provided Tuesday, however. And neither Reed nor Major Thoroughfare Committee Chairman Greg Pirkle, who also made the trip, answered phone calls.
The Major Thoroughfare Committee is the city group responsible for the estimated $20 million road. Some of that money will come from federal funding, but the Chickasaw Nation’s approval is necessary before that funding can be released during this funding cycle.
Reed is expected to talk more about the meeting today at the Lee County Library.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.