Ken Murphree, one of the creators of the “Miracle in Tunica,” will serve as president of the Stoneville, Miss.-based Delta Council in 2004-05. His selection was announced at the Council's annual meeting on the Delta State University campus May 7.
Murphree, a native of Tunica County, worked for 14 years as DeSoto County's first county administrator before returning to take a similar position in Tunica County in 1994. Since then, Murphree has presided over that county's transformation from one of the poorest in the nation to a major tourist destination.
“A lot of people have talked about the miracle that has taken place in Tunica County in the last 10 years,” said Murphree in his acceptance speech. “But what's happened in Tunica is really not that different than what's happened in the Delta over the last 100 years.”
Besides helping direct the economic development of Tunica County, Murphree has served as chairman of the Delta Council's Transportation Committee, the organization that has worked for the four-laning of U.S. Highway 61 and other highways and the development of the I-69 Corridor through the Delta.
A recipient of bachelor's (political science) and master's degrees (urban and regional planning) from the University of Mississippi, Murphree started his professional career as a planner with the DeSoto County Planning Commission and became its director in 1978.
In 1980, he became DeSoto County's first county administrator, a position in county government that was created to help Mississippi's counties operate more efficiently and make greater use of state and federal grants.
“Someone told me early on how Delta Council leaders with persistence, determination and many hours of studying the issues have been able to provide a positive change in the Delta,” said Murphree.
“As a private businessman and an individual who has worked for the public sector for my entire career, I have always held the people of Delta Council in high respect because they are the workhorses of the Delta.”
Murphree is also a licensed real estate broker and appraiser. He and his wife, Connie, have one son. They are members of Tunica Presbyterian Church.
Serving with Murphree in 2004-05 will be vice presidents Tripp Hayes of Clarksdale, Mike Lamensdorf of Rolling Fork, Jim Luckett of Dublin, Harry Simmons of Yazoo City, Archie Tucker of Leland and Tom Turner of Belzoni. Joe Ricotta of Indianola will be treasurer.