Headlines Cont. – 3/9/2007

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 9, 2007

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – March 9, 2007


Sardis aldermen give homeowner one year for renovations
By Jason C. Mattox

Condemned property in the City of Sardis was once again a topic of discussion for the mayor and board of aldermen.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Nena Seilor, whose property at 103 Dunlap Street was condemned during the summer of 2006, eventually signed a contract with the city that will allow her one year to complete renovations to the property and remove it from the city’s condemned list.

The contract consisted of a list of tasks, compiled by building inspector Robert Earl Wilkie, that needed to be completed to bring the house up to code. Seilor had attempted to revise some of the stipulations on the contract before she signed it.

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Some of the tasks mentioned in the contract include:

– pouring concrete footings for foundation;
– replacing floor joists in several rooms;
– removing an addition to the back of the house;
– laying new flooring on the front porch;
– complete electrical wiring upgrade, and more.

"All of the things on the list, with the exception of plumbing, is essentially the same that I agreed to in May 2006 during our meeting," she said. "I have been unable to proceed with the work because I have not been able to pull a permit for the work."

City attorney Tommy Shuler said he did not agree with Seilor’s proposed revisions in the contract.

"She has made substantial changes to the contract," he said. "My suggestion is that if she does not sign the original contract, the city needs to move forward with the condemnation."

Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye echoed those sentiments.

"I think the board has been very fair about this and the condemnation is going to stand if you don’t sign the original contract as it was presented to you," he said.

"We have given her 60 days and the list is lenient, so I don’t think we should change anything," Wilkie told the board.

After a short break, Tommy Shuler returned and said Seilor had signed the original contract.

In other board business:
Aldermen went into executive session to discuss personnel in the police and public works departments.
Sardis Volunteer Fire Department Chief Chuck Moore was given permission to purchase new fire hose nozzles and a light tower for the rescue truck. The items will be paid for by fire insurance rebate funds.
Moore was given permission to apply for a 95/5 matching grant through Homeland Security that would allow him to purchase new airpacks and a filling station for the department.
Aldermen asked interim police chief Bruce Miley to prepare standard operating procedures for the department by the April meeting.


Batesville board approves gas dept. equipment purchase
By Jason C. Mattox

Batesville aldermen voted to move forward with the emergency purchase of a modem at the city’s natural gas regulator station on Brewer Road during Tuesday’s meeting.

The estimated cost for the replacement modem is $8,400, according to City Clerk Laura Herron.

Gas Department Superintendent William Wilson told the mayor and aldermen that the modem needed to be replaced because it served as the back-up for that station.

"If the other one goes out, we will have no way of providing gas from that station," he said.

Wilson explained that it was his belief lightning had hit the modem "a while back" and it is no longer operational.

"Well, I think we all see this as an emergency, so we need to move on and purchase it," Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders said.

Mayor Jerry Autrey said the city was attempting to get the purchase covered by insurance.

In other board business
Aldermen accepted the resignation of longtime Parks and Recreation Director Ronald McMinn and voted to advertise for his replacement.
Cowles Horton was given permission to attend Fire Department Training Officer courses at the Mississippi Fire Academy March 26-28 with expenses paid by the city.
Russell McCullar was given permission to attend Interior Structural Fire Attack training at the Mississippi Fire Academy on March 23.
Calandra Shegog was given permission to use Memorial Park for a wedding on September 15.
A sign variance was granted for Starbucks. The sign will be 55 feet tall.
A truck was transferred from the street department to the Batesville Civic Center.
BPD Captains Paul Shivers and Jimmy McCloud were given permission to attend the Mississippi Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates Spring Training Conference April 12-13 in Pearl.
Crenshaw discusses water quality during meet; citizens voice concerns over chlorine levels
By John Howell Sr.

Crenshaw citizens, representatives of Water Management, Mayor Sylvester Reed and other town officials made claims and counter claims about the purity and chlorine content of the municipally-distributed water during Tuesday’s meeting of the board of mayor and aldermen.

Mayor Sylvester Reed fired the first salvo, referring to the sign message posted at Batesville Tire Mart for a period of days during February which stated: "Do not drink the water in Crenshaw or Mexico."

Reed mentioned the sign message as "the prank that was played" and said that Mississippi Department of Health engineer Jeff Williams had recently tested the town’s water.

"He said the water tested good; there’s nothing wrong with our water," Reed said of Williams’ tests last week. Reed said that he had received phone calls about chlorine problems from people who said their water was "red like blood," a description that Reed denied.

Alderman David Whitsell interjected, to murmurs of agreement from many in the meeting’s audience, that a red color in the water indicated too much chlorine.

"Every so often we flush water out and let it run," the mayor continued. "Other than that anyone who is drinking our water; it is safe to drink."

"Except for our chlorine," Whitsell said.

At the mayor’s invitation, Water Management representatives Robert Andrews and Bobby Brown addressed the meeting and described the steps needed to properly distribute chlorine in the town’s water supply.

Water Management was hired last month by Crenshaw aldermen to monitor the town’s water supply. The company serves 26 water systems in the Delta, Andrews said, as certified water operator. Certified water operators are required by state health department regulations for every water distribution system. Crenshaw has been without a certified water operator since July when a town employee who was also a certified water operator resigned. The town has met difficulty complying with monthly testing requirements since the resignation.

During February residents using the water noticed problems that they believed stemmed from excess chlorine in the water supply, according to Linda Mayo, who said that dark clothing had faded and become spotty during washing. Several other residents voiced the same complaint and brought faded clothes to Tuesday night’s meeting.

In January, a Mississippi Department of Health inspection rated the town’s water system as .07 on a five-point scale. No water system in the county had previously scored lower than 2.33 during fiscal years 2004 through 2006 and Crenshaw had previously scored 4.0 on inspections for the three prior years. The inspection report stated that there was no trace of chlorine in the water sampled during the January 25 inspection.

Also, on January 2, town employee Larry Cotton was injured when he was exposed to chlorine gas, the report stated. Cotton was attempting to add chlorine to the town’s water supply at the time he was injured.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Andrews and Brown described their work during February in an attempt to bring uniform chlorine distribution to the town’s water supply, including the cleaning of filter screens near the ICS building and adjustment of rotation cycles among the town’s three pumps that draw water from the ground and push it into the town’s storage tank.

"We checked it; it was blood red," Andrews said, regarding one incident of a water user’s complaint which he investigated.

"Could we have order?", the mayor asked several times as Andrews’ remarks brought murmurs from the audience.

"This is the first system that we have encountered this problem," Andrews said. "You’ve just got to have time to get it adjusted."
The adjustment process will include flushing water lines through fire plugs and retesting for chlorine content, Andrews continued. He said that he and Brown "will be doing all the adjustment."

"The health department says that we cannot put enough chlorine in your system to harm you," Brown told the town officials and audience. "I don’t see how it can affect your clothing; if it’s enough to bleach your clothing I don’t see why it won’t bleach your hair," he added.

"The health department has said that it is biologically safe," Brown continued. "What we want is for it to taste good. "It’s a balancing act," Brown said of the amount and location for the addition of chlorine into the town’s water system.

"That’s shed more light on it than we’ve had in two years," Whitsell said, following the remarks by Andrews and Brown.

The Water Management representatives also said that they would monitor the water and sewer systems at least twice weekly and offered suggestions about sources for purchasing and handling chlorine.

The subject of water came up again near the meeting’s end when the mayor opened the floor for questions from the public.

"It’s the mayor and board of aldermen’s responsibility to make sure we have safe water," former mayor Oscar Barlow said while he distributed information about chlorine to town officials. Barlow said that elevated water levels in his home had caused a skin condition on his wife that required medical attention.

"The doctor advised our family to move out of our house until the chlorine is regulated; it’s got to be addressed," Barlow said.

Aldermen Milton Phipps was absent due to health reasons. Attending, in addition to the mayor and alderman Whitsell, were aldermen Keith Pride, Shirley Morgan and Alberta Bradley.


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