Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Day 17--May 14, 2013

          I had a really pleasant and relaxing day.  Spent last night in a welcome center on the border of Alabama and Mississippi.  This morning we drove to Tunica, Mississippi. Tunica has an interesting history.  It is located about 20 miles south of Memphis, along the Mississippi River.  In the 1990’s, journalists and politicians used to stop here when they were looking for a story about black poverty.  In 1985, Jesse Jackson visited the town of Tunica, the county seat, and called it America’s Ethiopia.   60 Minutes did reports in Sugar Ditch Alley, a neighborhood of crumbling shacks named for its open sewer.
Things have really changed here in Tunica.  The community has grown to be the third-largest gaming region in the United States, after Las Vegas and Atlantic City.  Unlike other casinos along the Mississippi River, Tunica was not in the path of Hurricane Katrina.  As a result, some of the Gulf Coast casino traffic drifted northward to Tunica County.
Although the casinos lie outside the town limits, the effects of tax revenue generated are felt inside the town.  Public school system and the downtown district are currently among the most visible aspects.  Projects in the works are improvements on U.S. Route 61and expansion of Tunica Municipal Airport.  For the casinos and related business, thousands of jobs have been opened to Tunica residents as well as from neighboring towns and even other states.
Gambling has helped pave the way for new industries.  In 1991, Tunica County had only one traffic light.  Now it has miles of four-lane highways traveling around 9 casinos and 19 intersections with traffic lights.
Tunica County claims to be the site of Hernando DeSoto’s discovery of the Mississippi, but that is disputed by Coahoma County to the south and Memphis to the north.
            Farming still dominates most of the land in the county.  In 2002, Tunica County ranked eighth statewide in cotton production and fourth in rice production.  County farmers were also among the early pioneers of the farm-raised catfish industry.  Mississippi is the undisputed world leader in that business.
            Yes, the casinos brought a lot of revenue to Tunica, Mississippi.  Unfortunately, they didn’t see fit to allow Richard and me to take some of that to Alaska with us.  My dear husband said that the next time we will just send them a check and save the fuel bill to drive over here.  We ate at a buffet at Bally’s.  I have to agree, the catfish was terrific. 
Until next time,

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