The renewed spirit of bipartisanship in the U.S. Senate has helped give new life to legislation such as the Iran nuclear agreement review bill, reform of the No Child Left Behind Act and trade promotion authority.
On a quieter note, bipartisanship has also been at work in the passage of such legislation as the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, which will help modernize the infrastructure of the country’s ports and inland waterways.
“We also now have the same support for making critical upgrades to our roads and bridges,” says Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., who gave the keynote address at this year’s Delta Council annual meeting. “I share the belief of many Delta Council members that infrastructure can drive positive change in our communities and create jobs.”
The senator pointed to two accomplishments – the permanent Amtrak stop in Marks, Miss., and the longer term work that will eventually lead to the completion of Interstate 69 through the Mississippi Delta.
“Of course, these roads and rail lines are taking people just anywhere,” said Wicker. “They are bringing them to one of the most culturally rich places in the world – the Mississippi Delta.”
The Senator spoke about Mississippi’s claim to be the “Birthplace of American Music” and about some of the musicians who have made that possible, including the late B.B. King, who was laid to rest in his hometown of Indianola the day after the Delta Council meeting.
Wicker and his wife, Gayle, and other state and local officials drove to Indianola for the visitation in Indianola following the Delta Council meeting in Cleveland.
“I like songs about the Delta, whether they’re written by native sons like the late B.B. King or Steve Azar,” Wicker noted. “I even like songs about the Delta written by people from New York.
“In 1986, Paul Simon sang about the Mississippi Delta shining like a national guitar. That was 20 years before the first Mississippi Blues Trail marker was placed. So perhaps it was 20 years before we fully realized the potential for tourism that we have here in the Delta the Governor (Phil Bryant) just talked about.”
In the song, Simon wrote “I am following the river down the highway to the cradle of the Civil War. He was bound for Graceland in Memphis, Tenn.”
“Just imagine if Paul Simon made that trip this year – and who knows he may be planning to make that trip,” said Wicker. “He could be one of the 22 million visitors who will come to Mississippi this year. If he does, I dare say Graceland will not be his final destination.
“It might be a stop on the way to Mississippi, maybe to the B.B. King Museum or the Grammy Museum that is opening here this fall at Delta State University or to the hundreds of destinations these 18 counties have. Museums, state parks, hunting lodges, spas, juke joints. People from all over the world love to spend time right here.”
For more on the Delta Council meeting and its activities, visit http://deltafarmpress.com/government/sun-shines-briefly-delta-council-day-catfish-served#slide-0-field_images-125831.