Headlines Cont. – 12/9/2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 9, 2005

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – December 6, 2005


Leases for Sardis civic groups under city board’s scrutiny
By Jason C. Mattox

While a final decision from the Sardis Board of Aldermen has still not been made, the leases of space in the old Sardis High School building on McLaurin Street were once again discussed.

City Clerk Odessa Johnson reminded the board at their Tuesday night meeting this week that she was asked to bring the matter back up for the board to fully discuss it following a brief visit to the topic last month.

"We discussed the leases briefly and said we would take a closer look at them and decide whether they should be terminated or renewed," she said.

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The topic came to light after city leaders were made aware that several tenants were violating the terms of the lease.

According to Johnson, when an organization signs a lease for one of the rooms, they agree to pay $1 per year for rent on the condition they hold an annual fund-raiser with all money going to help pay for the upkeep of the building.

Ward 1 Alderman Joseph "JoJo" Still said the board wasn’t sure if some of the tenants even wanted to renew their leases.

"We wanted to know if there are some people in there who want to keep their space or not," he said.

Johnson said she is aware that some organizations are not even using the spaces any longer.

"I know there are some out there like Alcoholics Anonymous who have not honored their leases, and haven’t used their spaces in quite some time," she said. "A.A. has sub-leased their space to the Boys and Girls Club."

"Well, I don’t know of any that have held the fund-raiser they are required to have," Still said.

Still added he wanted to see a schematic drawing of the building to know which spaces are in use and which ones are not.

"There are a lot of people that want space in the building, but some of us don’t know what’s available and what isn’t," he said.

City leaders instructed Johnson to get a schematic prepared for a future board meeting.

"I think we really need to look at this thing closely before we make a decision on it," Ward 3 Alderman Mike Wilson said.


Main Street reps tell aldermen of plans
By Jason C. Mattox

While some changes to the Downtown Square have occurred in recent months with the overlay and striping of streets, more changes could be in the works.

Representatives of the Batesville Main Street Program, the city’s downtown revitalization organization, appeared before the Board of Aldermen to inform them of a recent meeting with an architect.

"We have met with an architect to get an updated master plan for the downtown area," Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons said. "We just want to make sure we don’t leave you in the dark on this. It is very important that the lines of communication are open."

Main Street board member Mickey Aldridge said the architect will come back with suggestions on how to improve the downtown including changes to green space and power lines.

"We don’t know what they are going to come back with," he said. "But they could come back with a suggestion to greatly improve the downtown area that we might want to take a look at."

Aldridge said Main Street expects to get the plans from the architect in early 2006.

"These people are going to give us their expert opinion on just how we can make our downtown better," he said. "If you look at the towns that are growing now, they all have thriving downtowns."

Simmons told aldermen that Main Street was simply there to keep them in the loop.

"We just want to make sure that everyone who will be involved with this is on the same page," he said.

No action was taken. 

Grant approved; Steelmatic project moves ahead in Sardis
By Jason C. Mattox

City leaders of Sardis are moving forward in accommodating both Steelmatic Wire, Inc. and the soon-to-be-displaced clients of Panola Industries who presently share the old Air Kontrol building.

Chad Wages, of Mendrop-Wages Engineering, told Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye and the Board of Aldermen that advertising for bids on the modification of the building will appear in publications beginning in January.

"We are planning to hold a mandatory pre-bid meeting on Jan. 5," he said. "That way anyone who might be interested in the project can make themselves more familiar with any quirks the building might have."

Dye said the progression with the building is thanks in large part to the work done by Wages and Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons.

"Chad and Sonny have been instrumental in getting this project rolling," he said.

Simmons informed the board that a $150,000 grant for the modifications has been approved.

"Steelmatic knows they will be responsible for any costs over the amount of the grant," he said. "They don’t have any problems with that at all."

As for jobs, Simmons said the first wave of hiring will result in 12 to 15 jobs, but more could come in the future.

"We certainly are hoping they will expand to more than those original jobs," he said.

As for the building’s other tenants, Panola Industries is a sheltered workshop that operates under the umbrella of the North Mississippi Regional Center, offering vocational training to 32 people with developmental disabilities.

"They knew in advance that if someone came in wanting to lease the building, they would have 30 days to move out," he said. "We have been working with them to make sure they have somewhere they can go."

Dye said he expects them to be moved either Friday or early next week.

"They have to do a walk through of the new location (the doctor’s office near the North Panola Hospital), before we can get them moved in," Dye said.

"Once that is done, we will go ahead and do what we can to get them moved."



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