Como mayor, aldermen taking steps to clean up town’s blight
By John Howell
Como town officials have been collecting addresses of people who own overgrown lots in Como, preparing to notify the owners to clean them up or have them declared a public nuisance.
“We’re going to send letters and give them certain notice ... and then we’re going to come back for a public hearing,” Mayor Everette Hill said. “If not (cleaned up) we’re going to declare it a nuisance and we’re going to clean up some of it.”
Cleanup of overgrown and derelict property is a recurring theme at monthly meetings of Como’s mayor and aldermen.
Assistant city attorney Kate Patterson told the town officials that she had given city clerk Alice Houston a Powerpoint presentation that details the steps leading to the public nuisance declaration.
Alderwoman Ruby Higgenbottom said that the owner of a trailer park in Senatobia had been forced to remove derelict trailers from that city and had placed two in a Como trailer park.
“We will not take other folks’ trash,” Higgenbottom said. She said that when she learned of the derelict trailer movement to Como, she called the police department and had them stop it.
“This is nothing personal,” Higgenbottom said, following further discussion of the conditions in the trailer park and with other neglected property. “It’s trying to clean up all the blight that’s in this town,” she said. “If we don’t start somewhere, it’s only going to get worse. If somebody gets mad then so be it, you’re mad. Get over it.”
Aldermen during their July 8 meeting also agreed to a request from the owner of a Thai restaurant to delay rent on the old city hall building until September 1 to allow owners Larry Cullinanes and Sika Ree, also known as “Peach,” time to remodel the building interior.
“They’re going to pay the deposit now, right?” Alderwoman Teresa Dishmon asked, following the unanimous vote to approve the delay, allowing $600 monthly rental payments to begin Sept. 1. The deposit would be paid July 9, Cullinane said.
The Cullinanes formerly operated the “Thai Place” restaurant in Batesville. They made a request at the June 10 meeting of Como town officials to rent the old city hall building on Main Street to reopen the restaurant there.
The lease of the property on Main Street also requires a signature indicating approval of the Como Historic Commission because the building is part of the National Downtown Historic District that includes Main Street and Elder Frank Ward or “Back Street,” Attorney Kate Patterson told the mayor and aldermen.
Mayor Hill said that the historic commission approval needed to be included on a separate form that is not part of the lease with the Town of Como.
In other business at the July 8 meeting:
• North Delta Planning and Development District representative Granville Sherman told the mayor and aldermen that an application for a Delta Regional Authority grant for sewer improvements will be submitted by a July 31 deadline. The grant application will be in addition to a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application that has been submitted for sewer improvements funding.
Alderman approved a resolution authorizing NDPDD to submit application for a $150,000 Small Municipalities Grant that could be used for downtown improvements;
• Aldermen approved by a 4 to 1 vote payment of claims totaling $35,123.41. Alderwomen Teresa Dishmon, Sonya Heard, Ruby Higgenbottom and Alderman John Walton voted to approve the payments. Alderwoman Rachel Powell voted to oppose. Powell also expressed the only other opposition votes during the night’s meeting, voting against approval of the minutes from the June 10 meeting and against the agenda for the July 8 meeting;
• Aldermen voted 4 to 0 to provide a city-owned cell phone for Mayor Everette Hill. Alderwoman Higgenbottom said that she had learned at the recent Mississippi Municipalities League convention that a public official’s personal phone records are subject to open records requests unless the city provides a phone for city business. Higgenbottom’s motion received votes of approval Alderwomen Heard and Dishmon and Alderman Walton. Alderwoman Powell had momentarily stepped out of the meeting at the time of the vote;
• Town officials will wait until July 25 accept bids for new sidewalk construction on Como’s Main Street.
An advertisement for bids states that old sidewalks will be removed and new sidewalks constructed. Further information can be obtained from town hall.