- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) - The Lower Mississippi River Museum and Riverfront Interpretive Site in Vicksburg will soon bear the name of towboat industry pioneer Jesse Brent.

The designation of the museum is part of a $12.3 billion water resources bill passed by Congress this past week and sent to President Barack Obama, according to U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, both R-Miss.

Brent founded Greenville Towing Company in 1956. He served as its chairman until his death in 1982.

Brent was also a founder and board chairman of the American Waterways Operators and was on the board of the National Waterways Conference.

The $23 million museum opened in Vicksburg in August 2012 after nearly 20 years of planning. It features a main hall with educational exhibits about the river and offers tours of the retired towboat MV Mississippi IV.

The museum is the second structure that will be named for Brent. In March, Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill that will rename the U.S. Highway 82 bridge across the Mississippi River at Greenville the Jesse Brent Memorial Bridge.

“The importance of this legislation to Mississippi as a state that relies on river ports, coastal waterways cannot be overstated,” Cochran said in a statement.

He said the bill will facilitate the dredging, flood control and other projects that are closely associated with the commerce and public safety in Mississippi.

Wicker said the modernizing ports and commercial waterways “is critical to maintaining competitiveness in a global economy as well as boosting trade and job growth across the nation.”

The $12.3 billion bill finances 10 years’ worth of infrastructure projects to aid U.S. ports and waterways, including the Port of Vicksburg and other inland ports where dredging in low tides typically take place after larger ports along main stems of rivers like the Mississippi.

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