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Mayors Want Washington To Pay More Attention To The Mississippi River

Mayors of 41 cities and towns along the Mississippi River met in St. Louis today to discuss how they can better address the tribulations the river brings their way. The mayors were from as far North as St. Cloud, Minnesota and as far South as Vidalia, Louisiana and they all saw record drought this year and record flooding last year.

Any disruption to traffic along the Mississippi costs big bucks. Oil, gas and grain that total about a quarter of the nation’s gross domestic product move along the river.

Memphis Mayor AC Wharton told the group that in recent years federal funds have not been adequate to dredge the river. Wharton spoke with Congress after the flooding in 2011, but he says it didn’t help.

“They’ve got gridlock up there,” Wharton said.

Mayor Hyram Copeland of the small town of Vidalia, Louisiana told the group that they will have a better shot if they work together. He says that’s exactly how his small town weathered Hurricane Isaac.

“Everybody working together, you realize what you’re made of,” Copeland said.

In the short term, the mayors are supporting a Farm Bill which will bring relief to drought devastated farmers. Their long-term goals include bringing more green jobs to their towns and setting local environmental protection goals. The mayors will begin to lobby Washington as a group in early 2013.

I love living in Memphis, but I'm not from the city. I grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I spent many hours at a highly tender age listening to NPR as my parents crisscrossed that city in their car, running errands. I don't amuse myself by musing about the purity of destiny, but I have seriously wondered how different my life would be if my parents preferred classic rock instead of Car Talk.