CLEVELAND, Miss. -- The 70th Delta Council annual meeting Friday, May 6, and will include a salute to the Mississippi River. An acclaimed historian who wrote about the 1927 flood of the river and the director for the nation’s flood control and navigation projects will be the featured guests at the meeting.

Author John Barry, who wrote Rising Tide, and Major General Don Riley, director of civil works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will share the platform at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on the campus of Delta State University, Cleveland, Miss.

“The Mississippi River, from both a geologic and economic standpoint, is responsible for the early settlement and most of the development of the Mississippi Delta, and indeed it is the thread that connects us in our special region,” said Delta Council President Ken Murphree of Tunica, Miss.

“Our speakers have a unique perspective on this massive resource. John Barry will chronicle how the 1927 flood on the Mississippi River had a profound impact not only in the Lower Mississippi Valley, but across the political landscape of the United States. Major General Don Riley’s message is one of the stewardship and management of this resource.

“Nowhere in the country is this message more understood and relevant today than the Mississippi Delta, and we are pleased that these two prominent men, one an author and historian and the other a major general in our nation’s armed services, will address Delta Council members and guests.”

In addition to Rising Tide, Barry has written four other novels. He has advised the World Health Organization and the federal government on influenza and bioterrorism, serves on the board of two museums, is co-originator of a scientific research center being developed by Tulane University, and is a member of the federal government’s Infectious Disease Board of Experts.

He has been keynote speaker at such varied venues as an international scientific meeting at the National Academy of Sciences and a White House Conference on the Mississippi Delta.

Barry graduated from Brown University and spent 10 years as a journalist covering national politics and economics. Currently, Barry is the Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Tulane University’s Center for Bioenvironmental Research.

Riley began at the Corps of Engineers headquarters following command of the Corps’ Mississippi Valley Division (MVD) in Vicksburg, Miss. There he oversaw the work of six engineer districts that maintain the Mississippi River — the nation’s busiest inland waterway and port complex — and its tributaries for navigation, flood control and other purposes from the headwaters in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

Riley is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers in 1973. He earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and is a registered professional engineer in California.

For the fourth consecutive year, Delta Council will honor top achievers from high schools throughout the 18 Delta and part-Delta counties of northwest Mississippi. Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck will recognize the students, selected for this honor by school administrators in their respective school districts. A $2,000 scholarship will be awarded to the individual selected as the top Delta honor graduate. Sixtysix high schools will send honor graduates to the Delta Council event.

Delta Council will also recognize Deltans who have made significant contributions in critical areas of life in the Delta.

The 2005 Good Middling Lady will be awarded to Sally Carson of Marks, Miss., for her contributions to the region.

The Delta Council annual meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. Riley and Barry’s keynote addresses are scheduled to conclude at noon, when Delta Council members and guests will move to the university quadrangle for a fried catfish lunch on the grounds.

The 70th annual meeting is sponsored by BankPlus, Delta Regional Medical Center, KBH Corporation, Land Banks of Mississippi, Morgan Keegan, and Jimmy Sanders.