Twin Forks Rising Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the revitalization of once-thriving Ward 2, was able to begin operations last year with the help of a $150,000 payment from the City of Hattiesburg.
A second and final $150,000, made possible by a Memorandum of Understanding recently approved by Hattiesburg City Council, will now allow the organization to employ a program coordinator, along with several additional measures aimed at improving the quality of life in that area.
“I’m very excited,” said Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado, who began work on the initiative in 2013. “We had a completely successful first year of operation – we’ve been able to provide services to the community, and we are exploring opportunities to improve housing in the area.
“We’ve gotten a couple of small grants to do community outreach and that kind of thing, so I’m really excited and happy with the way that it’s progressing. And I’m really happy with the cooperation between the city and the CDC too.”
Per terms of the memorandum, the city will expend the use of certain city facilities and services at no charge for events coordinated by Twin Forks Rising, and also will provide needed office space to the corporation.
The new Twin Forks Rising director/program coordinator will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of the corporation, and funding for salaries will be provided at the following capped amounts: 45 percent for one employee, 60 percent for two employees and up to 70 percent for three employees. Twin Forks also will designate a team member to be a point of contact for the city who will be able to answer questions, provide collateral materials and tend to program matters.
Twin Forks also will be responsible for promoting and maintaining an active membership and board, and the city will participate in an ex officio capacity on the executive board for a specified time period. In addition, the corporation will provide a list of objectives for which the $150,000 will be used, and will provide a five- to 10-year sustainability plan detailing its plan for continuation into the future beyond city funding.
“We’re working now, trying to make sure that we are sustainable,” Delgado said. “We came up with a plan for the sustainability for the CDC, and we’re still trying to recruit developers who are accustomed to developing in communities with challenges like ours.
“Our number one challenge is flooding, and we know that there are developers that work with that, so we are continuing in our search to get someone to come here and assist us with redeveloping Ward 2. We want to provide a quality of life that gives access to life on two rivers, and we are in proximity to two rivers. We can’t do any development in the floodway, but in the floodplain, we plan to do that.”
The corporation currently meets in a former church at 601 East Pine St., with plans for a grand opening in the near future.
“We are still working on the building,” Delgado said. “We were able to buy an old church out of foreclosure that had a lot of problems, so we’ve been working on it a while.”