Our close friend and America’s pre-eminent historian, guide, steward, and painter of the Lower Mississippi River is beached on the proverbial sandbar.
This is perhaps the most bi-partisan cause in the history of the US of A ::
For the anti-government, no-tax crowd : A small business employing local people is facing an unjust tax to the tune of $41,000. The unexpected levy would force the business to close its doors. It’s a tax that, according to precedents set in other states, should not be applicable for this small business.
For the environmental, socially-progressive crowd : A small business that operates an educational and guiding program with a strict mission of connecting people to the Lower Mississippi River. They do this by bringing people to the Mississippi River in safe, hand-built canoes crafted by the business owner and local students and apprentices employed by the business. The business educates the general public through old-school, “voyageur-style” day and overnight river trips. They also train underserved Mississippi Delta youth in river guiding and life skills while paying them a fair wage.
The small business is Quapaw Canoe Company, located in Clarksdale, MS and West Helena, AR. John Ruskey is the founder and owner. He will one day go down as the John Muir of the Lower Mississippi River when, in 50 years, we look back at how he single-handedly documented, painted, mapped, and instilled an appreciation for the Mighty Mississippi in thousands of Americans.
The state of Mississippi has suddenly hit Quapaw with a tax for its last four years of operations. Ruskey had not been charging sales tax on his river trips, working under the assumption that there was no sales tax on river business, as there is not in states like Tennessee and Utah where river operators are more common. If this tax is levied on Quapaw, it will not only shut the business down, it will essentially condemn any future nature tourism businesses from operating on the river out of Mississippi. Ruskey and team, in true get-it-done fashion, have managed to put a bill before the Mississippi legislature (SB 2972 HB 1604) that would exempt nature tourism operators from river taxes.
Hopefully this will just be another chapter of the ever-evolving, inspiring legacy that is John Ruskey…