3 On Your Side Investigates: The Free State of Gluckstadt - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

3 On Your Side Investigates: The Free State of Gluckstadt

(Source: WLBT) (Source: WLBT)
Kerry Minninger (Source: WLBT) Kerry Minninger (Source: WLBT)
Walter Morrison (Source: WLBT) Walter Morrison (Source: WLBT)
William Truly (Source: WLBT) William Truly (Source: WLBT)
Chad Mask (Source: WLBT) Chad Mask (Source: WLBT)
MADISON COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

As the Jackson metro area continues to expand, explosive growth in Madison County is igniting a fresh effort to form a new city.

New and lifelong residents of Gluckstadt are hoping to preserve their community's identity -- even as an established city to their north tries to take it in.

Kerry Minninger, who lives in the Gluckstadt community in south Madison County, can trace his roots to the people who created Gluckstadt back in the early 1900s. He says a speculator marketing the land caught the attention of German immigrants in Indiana, who sent someone down to check it out. Liking what he saw, he sent for the others, and they all headed south.

Present-day Gluckstadt has no town square or downtown area, because Minninger says the German Catholics built St. Joesph's Catholic Church first, and the community grew from there.

"The church has pretty much been the center of Gluckstadt from the early days," he says. "All the dairy farms were, of course, located around the area of Gluckstadt."

More than a hundred years later, Gluckstadt is attracting a new wave of settlers -- not from Germany or Indiana, but from Jackson and Nissan. Where those dairy farms used to be are neighborhoods, stores and schools.

Walter Morrison was designated the mayor of Gluckstadt as part of the community's effort to incorporate and become a full-fledged city. He helped with an effort to get enough signatures to take their wishes to incorporate to a Madison County Chancery Court judge.

"We do not want to become Madison extended, and we don't want to become Canton extended," Morrison says. "That's not because there's some dislike or displeasure with either of those, but Gluckstadt is a very unique community. It has a very unique heritage, and I think the vision would be to have a place where both residential development can exist right alongside commercial development -- but both be focused on preserving that heritage that sort of honors those people who came to the community many, many years ago."

They've tried to incorporate a couple of times before, but Morrison believes this latest effort will work.

However, there is a new wrinkle this time. The city of Canton has also gone to Madison County Chancery Court with an annexation plan. The city has previously annexed land around the Sowell Road interchange, extending south to the northeast corner of Calhoun Parkway and Church Road.

Its latest plan includes an area even farther south to an area that Gluckstadt also wants.

A new Mac Haik car dealership and a Callaway's Yard and Garden Center are in the section that both entities want. Both are currently in the county, but they'd contribute significant tax dollars to whichever city gobbles them up. At least one has told the court it wants things to stay like they are.

"The car dealer came into our community and certainly wants our community to support it," says Morrison, "but it has gone to court objecting to both the incorporation of Gluckstadt and the annexation by Canton."

We went to the new mayor of Canton, Dr. William Truly. He told us he supports the annexation plan, which was begun long before he took office.

"If you don't annex property, the negative is a loss of tax base, a loss of ad valorem taxes, a loss of sales taxes," he said. "What causes a city to grow is the acquisition of businesses that come to your town"

Canton is represented by attorney Chad Mask, who points out that the area that both entities want is a small fraction of what Canton is asking to incorporate. The incorporation plan covers a wide swath of land and neighborhoods that are not part of Gluckstadt's plans. However, he says the area south of Church Road is also in Canton's natural growth path.

"The city is growing significantly to the south," Mask says. "That's evident by a ten- or fifteen-year period of annexing to the south and around Nissan, going down toward Sowell Road, Church Road, and those areas. This is a continuation of that."

The Gluckstadt see things differently, and they plan to fight to keep it what Minninger says it has been for more than a century.

"That's part of Gluckstadt," Minninger says, referring to the area south of Church Road. "That was part of the Martin farm years ago. That was dead in the center of Gluckstadt, you might say."

The chancery court judge will decide who gets what, likely by early next year.

Regardless of how the judge rules, school-district lines will not be affected. Mask says by state law, district lines do not automatically correspond with city boundaries.

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