Folks singing the blues over missing B.B. King marker

February 4, 2014

Tourism

One of the most important markers on the Mississippi Blues Trail appears to have been stolen.

A marker commemorating the birthplace of blues legend B.B. King near Berclair in Leflore County is missing.

It was located in front of a small clump of trees at the dusty intersection of County Roads 305 and 513 just west of Itta Bena. All that remains of the marker is a small aluminum post sticking out of the ground.

Wanda Clark, who manages the Blues Trail program for Hammons & Associates, the Greenwood firm that designs the markers for the state, tells the Greenwood Commonwealth she is ordering a replacement marker.

“Since all the research is already behind us, it’s a matter of ordering a new marker from the foundry in Ohio,” Clark said.

Allan Hammons, the ad agency’s owner, said marker cost about $8,000.

Hammons said stealing one of the markers would be no simple feat. He said they weigh more than 85 pounds. He said the bulky, oversized cast aluminum signs are hard to lift and don’t fit in most cars.

Large tractors pulling wide farm equipment down the rural roads where many of the markers are located have damaged them before, but Hammons said that’s not what happened here.

With the base post still standing upright and the bell that attaches the marker to the post missing as well, Hammons said it was clear someone had stolen the sign.

“I think it clearly points out the interest some people have in our musical heritage, but we’d obviously prefer they leave the marker in place,” Hammons said.

Clark said the cost of replacement markers is already built into the program’s budget. One or two signs have to be replaced each year because of accidents or other damage.

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