By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer
---- — ST. CLOUD. Minn. — Clinton Mayor Mark Vulich on Thursday attended the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Incentive in St. Cloud as part of a mayoral-led effort committed to creating a coordinated voice for the Mississippi River.
The briefing announced the first-ever Memorandum of Common Purpose signing with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, aimed to make the cities and towns along the Mississippi River more sustainable. Fifty-five mayors are part of the effort.
St. Cloud Mayor David Kleis, host and co-chairman of the organization, welcomed the group of 18 mayors from nine of the 10 Mississippi border states.
”The river is by far the most valuable asset for our cities...it’s time to bring national attention back to America’s greatest waterway,” Kleis said.
More than 100 cities border the river and rely on it for the economic development of their communities. The goal for the MRCTI is to continue to support those cities and to support the prosperity of the Mississippi.
”Our mission here is to represent communities from the headwaters to the Gulf, to advocate for the river and preserve it ecologically, recreationally and economically,” St. Louis Mayor and co-chairman of the MRTCI Francis Slay said.
The group has joined together with the Army Corps of Engineers to organize enhancement projects on a large geographic scale.
Army Corps Senior Civilian Member of the Mississippi River Commission Edward Belk said the most significant partnership the Corps has is with the mayors.
”The mayors are here representing their (cities) and they can be the voice those communities need,” Belk said.
Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton commented on the organization’s work in creating a common purpose with the Army Corps of Engineers, to signify what the MRCTI is striving for.
”Something this special is worth fighting for,” Wharton said. “We don’t have anyone to pass this on to, (so) if we don’t do it, nobody else is going to.”
Vulich was unavailable for comment about the conference and press briefing.