Tunica’s transformation deepened in 2002
“The heritage you have here, the whole world wants. The casinos can’t build this; you’re the real deal.”
The Tunica Miracle hinted at in 1998 truly arrived in 2002.
There was a lot to celebrate as Tunica County marked the 10th anniversary of gaming: more than ten million were visiting the resort area, gaming taxes kept climbing, and the world was taking note.
“This is mind boggling…the whole thing is mind boggling,” remarked powerful MS legislator Charlie Capps on a county-sponsored tour of the county in May.
Tunica’s prominent role in the Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson title fight at Memphis’ Pyramid in June also put the spotlight on the whole region. Tyson may have ended up “down and out” in the ring, but Tunica County and the Mid-South garnered millions of dollars worth of good PR. [Editor’s note: Future president Donald Trump was one of the celebrities who attended the fight.]
Before year’s end, the community hosted two other notable events: the “Big Bang” finale in October to culminate gaming’s anniversary year; and the dedication of the town of Tunica’s Veterans Memorial on Veterans Day, when the keynote speaker was Col. Oliver North.
(The Times published special issues for all three of these historic events. The “Anniversary of Gaming” special edition features interviews with some of the pioneers of gaming.)
The year’s fourth big story was the return to local control of the county’s public school system in March, after five years under state conservatorship.
Co. leaving big money in healthcare on the table
Tunica County is home to a singular facility that should take a larger role in healthcare in the community – the Health & Wellness Pavilion, a component of the county’s parks and recreation department.
Healthcare consultant Mitch Monsour with Mercator Health Services called the Wellness Canter “the finest in all of Mississippi and the Mid-South” in a final report to the Board of Supervisors Monday and recommended its use for a “full spectrum of patient services,” such as diagnostics, therapeutics, procedures, behavioral health, community education, telemedicine networks, and lifestyle intervention.
Monsour cited “a shocking lack of licensed and certified social workers, dietitians, technologists and specialty nurses” locally, also noting the lack of specialty physicians and dentists.
Blues legend James Cotton dead at 81
World-renowned blues harmonica master James Cotton, whom Rolling Stone called “one of the greats of all time, burning with brilliant virtuosity” died on March 16, 2017 of pneumonia at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas. He was 81. His overwhelmingly powerful harmonica playing was one of the iconic sounds of the blues. He toured worldwide for over 60 years.
According to a statement last week ftom Alligator Records, James Henry Cotton, known as “Mr. Superharp,” recorded nearly 30 solo albums, winning one Grammy Award, six Living Blues Awards and 10 Blues Music Awards. He was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame in 2006. The New York Daily News called him “the greatest blues harmonica player of all time.” NPR Weekend Edition said, “Conjure up a list of all-time great blues harmonica players, and high up on it you’ll see the name James Cotton.”
Local History: Typhoid fever panics Tunica Countians in 1952
This week continues a series of history stories by the late Ashley Harris. This story first appeared in the January 19, 1995 issue.
Typhoid fever panicked Tunica County in the summer of 1952 after James Franklin, a tenant on the Clay Taylor plantation at Little Texas, died of the disease.
Tunica County received yet another nationally reported “black-eye” - only one in a long string - over the outbreak.
“Many comments were made by local people,” wrote then-editor Margaret Phillips, “about one fact it presented Tunica County as ‘a hinterland community,’ not the modern progressive county we do have.”
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