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The Delta Council Report

May 2001
Volume 5, Issue 4

Lamensdorf Named New Delta Council President

CARY FARMER and businessman Ben Lamensdorf was named as the Delta Council President for 2001-02 at the 66th Annual Meeting of Delta Council on Thursday, May 24, 2001.

“Ben Lamensdorf is a unique gentleman whose soft manner and unassuming ways will help guide Delta Council through the very tough decisions which are sure to face us in the Delta economy during this coming year,” said outgoing Delta Council President Kenneth Hood of Gunnison. “Like many who have served before him, our new president is one of the most widely respected farmers in the entire Cotton Belt and he is known throughout circles across this country as one of the most intense managers and efficient farm leaders in the nation.”

Serving with Lamensdorf as officers this year: Clarksdale farmer and attorney Cliff Heaton, Greenwood farmer Ray Makamson, Charleston farmer Ray Rounsaville, Hollandale educator Howard Sanders, Como ginner and farmer Sledge Taylor, and Belzoni banker Huey Townsend as vice presidents. Marks banker Frank Sibley will serve another term as Delta Council treasurer.

In addition to serving in various capacities with Delta Council over the years, Ben Lamensdorf has been a strong conservation leader; he is one of the few farmers ever to serve on the Mississippi Forestry Commission and served as its chairman in the mid-90's. He was a founding member of Delta Wildlife and is an avid outdoorsman.

He serves as chairman of the Board of the Bank of Anguilla and he and his wife, Betty, are members of the Anshe Chesed Temple.

Lamensdorf said he looked forward to the challenge and praised the work of Kenneth Hood over the past year.

“I would like to thank Kenneth for continuing the tradition of excellence in his service as the top leader of this organization,” said Lamensdorf. “I have known Kenneth for many years, and Delta Council is stronger and more effective today because of his steady hand and sound judgment.”

Would a ’27 Flood Overtop the Mississippi River Levees?

THE 66TH ANNUAL Meeting of Delta Council will be on May 24 at Delta State University and even though there is no current threat of flooding on the Mississippi River and most Deltans are eager to get rain on the dry crops, Delta Council will be talking about flood protection.

Few people in the Mississippi Delta are aware that the Mississippi River levees, which were built in response to the massive flooding of 1927, would no longer contain a flood equivalent to the rainfall event which caused flood stages in 1927. The Mississippi River levees are in excellent condition due to the work of the two Levee Boards and the Corp of Engineers who serve the region; however, a flood event equivalent to 1927 would overtop the Mississippi River levees in several locations in Issaquena and Washington County, Mississippi.

“Several years ago, the Mississippi River Levee Enlargement Project began in Issaquena County, and currently construction is ongoing to raise the elevation of the Mississippi River levees in those locations along Issaquena and Washington Counties where there is a deficient height,” stated Tom Gary, a Leflore County farm leader who serves as Chairman of the Flood Control Committee of Delta Council.

Delta Council, the local economic development organization for the Mississippi Delta region, has been a strong advocate of obtaining the necessary congressional funding to accelerate the completion of levee enlargement so that it would protect the Mississippi Delta from a flood event similar to that flood stage experienced in 1927.

This year, alone, the Congress will consider approximately $50 million in funding to continue the levee enlargement work which is currently ongoing in Issaquena County, near the Mayersville area. The levee enlargement work will raise the height of the levee approximately 8-10 feet, which is adequate to hold back a 1927-type flood.

“The time to focus on flood protection is everyday that we remain dry, so that we are not in an emergency situation when high water comes down the Ohio and Missouri River system — it is not a question of “if” we will ever have high water on the Mississippi River again, instead, it is a question of “when”?” cautioned Gary, a farm operator and property owner who experienced ravaging floods on the Tallahatchie River in 1991, located on the east side of the Delta.

Due to excellent working conditions for levee enlargement construction operations, the past two years have proven to be productive in terms of making progress on the levee enlargement work. According to Corp of Engineers officials, weather conditions have allowed contractors to advance the levee enlargement work at a significantly accelerated schedule.

“I am continuously impressed with the power of the Mississippi River and its tributaries, which gathers the snow melt from the Missouri River and the rainfall from the Ohio River basin each spring, collecting floodwaters from 31 states,” Gary pointed out. “Most people don't realize that if a 1927-type flood stage came down the Mississippi River and overtopped the levees in the vicinity of Issaquena County, it would create a body of water that would put 3-7 feet of water into Greenville Ramada Inn and cut through Highway 82 between Indianola and Moorhead. Flood protection improvements can never be taken lightly if we are going to live and do business in the Delta,” Gary concluded.

Avant Named Thompson's Legislative Director

CONGRESSMAN BENNIE THOMPSON has announced that Lanier Avant will be the principal legislative advisor for him, including Thompson's work on the Agriculture and Budget committees. In addition, Avant will draft legislation, coordinate policy efforts with other Congressional offices and assist Congressman Thompson in formulating policy initiatives, among other duties.

Congressman Thompson stated, “Lanier Avant has been appointed as my new Legislative Director. He's done a great job juggling press (as my Communications Director) and legislation. Despite his age, Avant has demonstrated the maturity and insight necessary to serve in this capacity. I anticipate his work ethic and Hill experience will serve the Second District well.”

Avant will replace Walter Vinson, who has accepted a position with the House Agriculture Committee. Vinson had served as Thompson's Legislative Director since 1997.

“I met with Lanier on a recent trip to Washington and look forward to working with him on the many issues we confront in the Mississippi Delta,” said Delta Council executive vice president Chip Morgan. “He is a smart young man who will be able to get things done.

“Delta Council also wishes Walter Vinson well in his new position and we look forward to continuing our relationship with him as he becomes a key player on the important staff of the House Agriculture Committee. Walter has been a very effective legislative director.”

Avant earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Jackson State University in May 2000. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in Economics at Howard University. A native of Crenshaw, Miss., the 23 year-old looks forward to returning to his home state.

“Working on the Hill is an excellent opportunity. For me, the focus is on best preparing myself to go back to Mississippi and make a difference. With a little hard work and faith, great things happen.”

Cochran Announces New Legislative Director

SENATOR THAD COCHRAN announced that Clayton Heil has been selected to be his new Legislative Director.

Heil is returning to the Senator's staff. He worked for nearly four years as a Legislative Assistant before he went to work in 1999 as a Professional Staff member of the Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary Appropriations Subcommittee.

In addition to managing other legislative staff in Senator Cochran's office, Heil will handle defense and Corps of Engineers issues. He is a graduate of Colorado State University where he earned degrees in Economics and Political Science, and he is currently pursuing a law degree at Georgetown University. He officially started his new position on April 12.

“We look forward to working with Clayton in his new position,” said Tom Gary, Jr., chairman of Delta Council Flood Control Committee. “Senator Cochran has an important role in energy and water resource matters and the future of these projects will rely heavily on Clay and it is wonderful that we have such a proven and capable person like him to impact these issues on behalf of Senator Cochran and Mississippi.”

Cochran Announces New Legislative Assistant For Agricultural Issues

SENATOR THAD COCHRAN (R-MS) announced that Hunter Moorhead of Greenville, Mississippi, has been selected to be a Legislative Assistant who will be responsible for handling agricultural issues. Moorhead is a graduate of Mississippi State University with a degree in Agricultural Economics.

“Delta Council has worked with Hunter a number of years and looks forward to continuing that relationship in his new position on Senator Cochran's staff,” said Kenneth Hood, president of Delta Council from Bolivar County. “Hunter is very aware of the problems and concerns facing Mississippi agriculture and will be a key player in Washington.”

After graduation, Moorhead worked as an Agricultural Legislative Assistant for Representative Mike Parker. For the past 2-_ years, he has been working for the House Agriculture Committee, most recently as the Staff Director for the Risk Management, Research and Specialty Crops Subcommittee.

Hunter officially started his new position with Senator Cochran on April 16.

Catfish Health Identified as Highest Research Priority

IN A RECENT meeting with Delta Council Aquaculture Committee leaders, fish health management was identified as the highest priority for future research strategies at the Stoneville-based Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center.

“Similar to row crops, the catfish industry is in the doldrums economically, and a large part of our problems relate back to the condition of fish health and losses due to disease,” stated Tommy Woodard, a Yazoo County catfish producer who currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Delta Council Aquaculture Committee.

Currently, there are very few preventive measures or even disease treatments available to catfish producers. The most common recommendation for the treatment of an unhealthy herd of fish is to reduce the feeding operations among the catfish herd in disease-ridden ponds.

“As we related to the scientists at Stoneville several weeks ago, it is critical that we begin developing the capacity to properly evaluate catfish herd health and take steps which can provide some level of intervention before we actually experience fish losses or a problem which causes us to stop feeding the fish,” added Woodard.

A new problem in recent years is a parasite from infected snails. Unfortunately, the parasite has a life cycle that includes thousands of migratory wading birds that have begun to inhabit the Delta's catfish acreage during certain periods of the year. The parasite causes lesions on farm-raised catfish and actually results in fish mortality if not treated with an intense management strategy aimed at reducing snail populations in the ponds.

In the past two years, scientists at Stoneville estimate that significant losses have been experienced on numerous catfish farming operations due to the presence of wading birds that transmit the infection to the snails, which are in turn consumed by the pond-raised catfish.

“We have an extremely capable group of scientists working on catfish at Stoneville, and it is our hope that we can take this core group of specialists and build the best fish health management team in the country, with the objective of reducing losses that we know we are experiencing due to poor fish health,” concluded Woodard.

Delta Wildlife Names Marketing Director

MARY HELEN BLOSSOM of Cleveland has just been hired as the new Marketing Director for Delta Wildlife. A native of Columbus, she is a recent graduate from Delta State University where she received a degree in Consumer Relations.

“We are excited that Mary Helen has joined the Delta Wildlife staff, and we look forward to her contributions to this organization,” said Delta Wildlife chairman Bill Kennedy of Inverness. “She will be a tremendous asset to this organization in ensuring that Delta Wildlife's message of natural resource enhancement is spread to the membership and public.”

Mary Helen graduated from Caledonia High School and was a member of 4-H for ten years, winning three-state winning judging teams, and showed cattle and sheep. Mary Helen served as a Junior Cattlemen's director for three year for the state of Mississippi and is a fourth generation cattle producer.

Council Expresses Appreciation to Annual Meeting Sponsors

DELTA Council President Kenneth Hood of Gunnison expresses thanks to seven companies who have made tremendous contributions to the 66th Annual Meeting of Delta Council.

“These seven companies have shown their genuine commitment to the Mississippi Delta by making significant contributions toward our efforts in putting on the best possible meeting for our membership and special guests,” said Hood, a Bolivar County farmer and ginner. “Through their financial and technical support, they are helping make the Delta a better place through their support of Delta Council.”

The companies that have stepped forward in assisting Delta Council with the meeting include: KBH Corporation, Case IH, BASF, Delta Farm Press, Viking Range Corp., Union Planters, and Coopwood Communications.

Ray Tapped For WRP Coordinator

GIL RAY, who served the past 10 years as the Bolivar County District Conservationist for the Natural Resources and Conservation Service, has been named as the Mississippi state Wetlands Reserve Program coordinator.

“Delta Wildlife praises the appointment of Gil Ray as the new WRP coordinator in Mississippi,” said Chat Phillips of Yazoo City, chairman of Delta Wildlife's Wetlands Committee. “NRCS has chosen an extremely qualified person for this job and Delta Wildlife looks forward to continue working with Gil Ray in his new position in Jackson.”

Ginners Association Announces Officers, Sets Meeting

THE SOUTHERN Cotton Ginners Association has announced their officers for 2001-2002, in addition to setting their summer membership meeting July 23-25, at the Beau Rivage Hotel in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Delta Council Director Sledge Taylor of Como was elected vice president of the Ginners Association, which serves the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Bobby Todd of Tallulah, La., was tapped as president of the organization.

In addition to Taylor, Buddy Cochran of Avon was named president of the Mississippi Ginners Association, while Taylor and James Killebrew of Tchula were elected as vice presidents of the Mississippi Ginners Association.


A Newsletter of Delta Council
Ben Lamensdorf
Cliff Heaton
Ray Rounsaville
Sledge Taylor
Ray Markamson
Howard Sanders
Huey Townsend
Frank Sibley
Chip Morgan
Frank Howell

Delta Council Names
2001-2002 Officers

Cliff Heaton
Ray Makamson
Ray Rounsaville
Howard Sanders
Sledge Taylor
Huey Townsend
Frank Sibley

Delta Council Honors Top Achievers

EVERY YEAR AT ITS Annual Meeting, Delta Council gives special recognition to people in the Delta who have earned recognition for their achievements to the region.They are considered the leaders in their field and are selected by a representative group of their peers. Delta Council was pleased to recognize the following at the 66th Annual Meeting on May 24:

Peter Hairston,

Aubrey Harris,

Seymour Johnson,

Marty Fuller,
Mississippi State University

Ed Hester,

Outstanding Contributions to Hardwood Forestry
Larry Moore,
Delta National Forest

Charles Coghlan,

Scooter Henderson,

Congressman Notes Opposition's Tactics

(Editor's Note: George Grugett, Executive Director of the Mississippi Valley Flood Control Association, recently made some interesting comments during an association meeting, quoting heavily from his organization's vice president, Congressman Marion Berry from Arkansas. Delta Council felt like the comments were worthy of reprinting here.)

IN CLOSING, I would like to quote our Vice president, Congressman Marion Berry from Arkansas. The Congressman said this during our 65th annual meeting in New Orleans last month:

“The government of this country has been so infiltrated with zealots that we are rapidly losing the ability to continue to do what we do in the Mississippi Valley that has made it such a wonderful place, and they have done it in a clever and subtle way. This is not about clean air, clean water, protecting the land or environment or anything else. This is about power. It's about who is going to control this valley.

“I think that every project I am working on that has to do with the Mississippi River Valley, levees, navigation, flood control, irrigation or anything else is just barely breathing. These people are winning. If I were to rate this environmental issue that I am talking about, I would tell you that we are losing and the other side is winning about 80 percent of the time, and they are gaining. As a group and as residents of the Mississippi Valley and its tributaries, we had better take note of this fact and get busy — and I mean starting right now.

“Let me encourage each and everyone of you to get involved politically. Support the people who support your ideals and don't hesitate — phone, fax, e-mail and aggravate the hell out of every public office-holder you know to get the people in office that you think need to be there. If you don't, they will.

“We in the Mississippi Valley should not give up the fight, we need the help of everyone and most especially each of you.”

Delta Council Arrangements and Promotions Committee Meets

THE DELTA COUNCIL Arrangements Committee recently met in Stoneville to go over arrangements for the 2001 Delta Council Annual Meeting and to choose the 2001 Good Middling Lady of the Year. Pictured from left are; Maggie Parker of Inverness, Virginia White of Greenwood, Lil Carson of Marks, Margaret Harris Brumfield of Inverness, Chip Morgan of the Delta Council staff, Melissa Darden of Cary, and Susan Carter of Rolling Fork. Darden and Carter are Co-Chair of the Delta Council Arrangments Committee.

Rate For Cottonseed Assistance Payment Estimated At $15.53 Per Ton

BASED ON THE latest projections by USDA, the rate for the 2000-2001 Cottonseed Assistance Program would be approximately $15.53 per ton of cottonseed (or $5.89 per bale of lint).

With ginning season complete, the Cottonseed Assistance Program should work largely the same as that of the previous year with application forms being mailed to each individual gin sometime in the next couple of months.

The gin is then required to verify the number of bales ginned during the season. USDA will make a final determination of the payment rate once the application deadline has passed.

“Cottonseed Assistance Program made a huge boost to a cotton economy that is undergoing massive amounts of red ink over the past few years,” said Delta Council President Kenneth Hood of Gunnison, a farmer and ginner. “We appreciate Senator Thad Cochran's role in making this program a reality, and it could not have come at a better time.

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