Towering cross going up in Florence - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Towering cross going up in Florence

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FLORENCE, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

"The cross is 110 foot, it will be going out here on the Highway. I'm not knocking anybody in Brandon for sure. Because it wasn't meant to be. It was meant to be out here," says Carroll Berry, owner of Berry's Seafood in Florence.

He has two big projects in the works that could turn the small city into a magnet for tourists.

When the idea for a giant cross was nixed in Brandon, Berry immediately contacted Crosses Across America, the group that places the 11-story crosses in locations throughout the U.S., and said he wanted it.

"I believe people will come and pray under the cross," he says.

Brandon City Hall didn't support the idea of the big cross overlooking I-20. But Florence Mayor Pam Clark says the Board of Aldermen, and citizens there, have embraced the plan.

"We have had calls from all over Florence, and in fact from all over the state," said Clark. "We've had calls, emails, Facebook messages from people saying how excited they are that we're going to have it here."

The only hurdle they had was creating a monument ordinance to allow a gigantic structure. That's done, and the cross is going up next to another gigantic structure: the new 20-thousand square-foot, 50-foot-tall Berry's Seafood. The restaurant will include a gift shop, a towering indoor tree, a room dedicated to Andy Griffith, and TV's with messages from Billy Graham.

We couldn't find anyone unhappy with the promising new development, not even a competing restaurant owner. Christine Malvaso owns the nearby Smokehouse of Florence. She says tourism means more business across the board.

"They're gonna stop there, gonna be taking pictures, it's gonna be great for the community," Malvaso says.

The restaurant and the cross should be complete by April. 

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