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Our boat may be small, but opportunities great

When he was president, John F. Kennedy kept a small bronze plaque on his desk.

On it was inscribed an old Breton prayer: ‘Oh God thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.’

During his years as leader of the Navy, Admiral Hyman Rickover made it a practice to give this prayer to new submarine captains. It was Adm. Rickover who presented this gift to the former seaman turned commander-in-chief, JFK.

A dear friend presented me with a reproduction of this plaque upon my election as mayor, and the old prayer now sits on my desk at City Hall.

Its words are most appropriate.

With a pandemic afoot, along with a depressed Natchez economy, challenges in our city budget, and a never-ending stream of costly and weighty concerns, it would be easy to become overwhelmed.

“Oh Lord, where does one start? My boat is indeed small.”

Just after the election, “Mommie,” the grandmother of my dear friend, the late Bishop, Dr. Kevin Deason, shared these words with me: “God doesn’t give you the Vision without also giving you the Provision.”

Wow! How I have been relying on that promise!

Deep down, I have the assurance that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and getting down to business has become my one and only focus. The job must be done.

Just over the course of the past few days, we have begun implementing our plan, The Natchez Renewal.

Our pace has been strong — the stakes are too high for us to sit still, and we can’t afford a slow start.

We have begun putting together our plans to help business and tourism recover. We have been meeting with local, state and federal partners who can help us get funds to clean up the old tire plant and build job training.

We have begun work on MED NATCHEZ —our plan to bring Medical Economic Development to our area.

We have been working on our strategy to revitalize recreation and programs for our youth.

We have been holding meetings with law enforcement to create a better approach to fighting, solving, and preventing crime.

We have been having meetings and discussions of things we can do to build greater unity in our community.

And we have been busy working with our City Clerk and Board of Aldermen to make sure we balance the current budget and present a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

In addition to this, we have met with every department director to access the needs in our city, from fire to police, from public works to zoning and permitting. We have also met several times with each alderperson to establish a working relationship that will move Natchez forward.

It’s an exciting time. Good things are happening. Our boat may be small — but our opportunities are great.

The future is ours.

Dan M. Gibson is mayor of Natchez. You may reach him at 601-445-7555.