Headlines Cont. – 4/6/2007

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 6, 2007

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – April 6, 2007


Food Drive
     A truckload of canned goods was delivered Tuesday to the Panola Food Pantry from Curves Fitness Center, where a food collection drive took place throughout March. The 127 Curves members contributed more than 1,800 pounds of food. Shown are (from left) Pantry manager Marie Leland and Curves owners Lisa and Matt McGraw.
Sardis leaders consider asking state for foreclosure properties
By Jason C. Mattox

Property forfeitures that have reverted to the state for ownership might soon become property of the City of Sardis.

City Clerk Odessa Johnson explained to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen Tuesday night that property not sold at pubic auction for delinquent taxes reverts back to the state. However, the city can request that property in the city limits be given back to city.

Mayor Alvis Rusty Dye told aldermen that the land could come in useful for construction of affordable housing.

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"We have people in the office here every day that are looking for somewhere to live," he said. "We need nice homes for people who want to move here."

Dye explained that he had been approached by a development group who was interested in constructing single-family homes on lots in the city.

"If we get the foreclosure land back, we could sell that land to these people and they would build homes on the property," he said. "And I don’t mean apartments. I am talking about nice houses."

No action was taken on the matter.

Johnson presented a revenue and expenditure sheet to the aldermen and said she would propose budget amendments during the next meeting on May 1.

Alderman-at-Large Roy Scallorn asked other aldermen to help keep watch on the upkeep of the cemetery.

"I have been getting a lot of complaints that our maintenance worker is not doing what he is contracted to do," Scallorn said. "I want to make sure he is cutting the cemetery regularly and not just prior to board meetings so he can get his check."

In other business:
City attorney Tommy Shuler was instructed to draft a mock ordinance that would prohibit children from playing basketball in the streets.
Aldermen accepted the low bid of BanCorp South for financing on two new police cars.
In an unusual move, aldermen agreed to go into executive session to hear police officer Brooke Manigold on personnel. The city officials agreed to go into executive session at her request about 8:45 p.m. When the session was again opened about an hour later, the mayor said no action had been taken.
‘Pre-written’ check for Crenshaw’s van approved by city board in split vote
By John Howell Sr.

Crenshaw town officials sparred over the mayor’s purchase of a used van for the town during their Tuesday, April 3 meeting.

The van’s purchase came before the board as a docket item under a category titled "pre-written checks," ? checks written prior to the board’s approval and submitted for approval at the next meeting of the mayor and aldermen. The board had routinely approved the category until aldermen raised questions about their legality at last month’s meeting.

When Mayor Sylvester Reed asked aldermen for a motion to approve the docket, Alderman Alberta Bradley asked town attorney Mary Brown, "About these pre-written checks, are they legal?"

"Every check has to be approved by the board," the attorney replied.

Brown said that she was aware that in the past the town had been required to pay on delivery for certain goods and services and had established a practice of writing checks to comply with c.o.d. policies.

"I understand what you’re doing, but you can’t do it," Brown said. She recommended establishing a petty cash fund for c.o.d. payment requirements that is larger than the current amount kept on hand.

"I can’t approve a check for $3,500 if it’s wrong," Bradley said.

"Y’all have been doing this for years," Brown replied.

"I’m going to oppose it because we need a new roof for city hall," Alderman David Whitsell said.

Mayor Reed defended his van purchase, describing the vehicle as a good deal which would haul seven people and would provide transportation for the state trusty inmate labor used for municipal work in the town.

"We should have been notified on this; that’s a great deal of money," Whitsell said.

"We paid more than that for the pumps," Reed replied, referring to an emergency purchase of sewer lift station pumps in November.

After two questions from Alderman Shirley Morgan and further discussion, Bradley said: "I still say it should have been voted on."

Morgan and Alderman Keith Pride voted for approval of the claim docket including the pre-written checks. Aldermen Bradley and Whitsell voted against the approval, tying the vote at 2-2 tie in the absence of Alderman Milton Phipps.

"I so move that they be approved," Mayor Reed said, voting to break the tie.

Sardis board considers being commissioners
By Jason C. Mattox

Sardis aldermen might be adding the title of commissioner beside their name at the next meeting of the mayor and board of aldermen.

Ward 3 Aldermen Mike Wilson, who said he believed it would make the city run smoother if they established a city commission, brought up the matter for discussion. Wilson was apparently referring to delegating each aldermen responsibility for certain city departments, not a change in the form of city government that would require a new city charter.

"If you all don’t think we need them, I completely understand, but I believe this is something that will make the city run more efficiently," Wilson said.

Wilson explained that the commissioners would help the city in different areas such as the police department, technology and more.

"This would allow us to have someone that could look into matters like improper invoices," Wilson said. "But it would not yield any additional power. It wouldn’t take anything away from the mayor and vice-mayor."

Wilson told his fellow aldermen he would be in favor of working as commissioners on a trial basis before making them a permanent facet of government.

"I’d like to see us try it for 90 days," he said. "That would give us all plenty of time to see how it will work out."

Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Smith asked if the board had to vote on the matter immediately.

"This is something I would like to have some time to look at," Smith said. "Is there any way we can take action on this at the next meeting?"

Wilson and other aldermen voted to table the matter and discuss it again at the next meeting of the board.

Hiring should begin at Rolando ‘in days,’ spokesman says
By John Howell Sr.

Rolando Curtis Foods spokesman Cecil Coward told Crenshaw town officials that hiring at the RCF facility should begin within days.

"We’re just waiting for the equipment to get here," Coward said during the April 2 meeting of Crenshaw’s mayor and aldermen, adding that the equipment should arrive in "about five days."

Coward had appeared at the meeting of the mayor and aldermen with Crenshaw Police Chief Darryl Linzy, both of whom represented the Crenshaw Fall Festival Committee seeking support for a festival on the weekend of August 2-5.

Coward’s statement about a hiring date was prompted by a question from Mayor Sylvester Reed. Alderman Alberta Bradley followed with a question about the wiring in the facility that formerly housed Dana Corporation.

Coward said that the wiring had been replaced "where the equipment would be." Wiring has twice been stolen from the vacant facility by thieves seeking to sell it for its scrap copper.

The building had formerly been owned by the county and was signed over to Rolando Foods last summer with a promise that it would locate a manufacturing operation there. The hiring has been postponed several times after the startup projection of last fall was missed.

The fall festival that Coward and Linzy proposed would include a weekend of competitive cooking, and tournaments in a variety of activities including spades, dominos, softball and basketball, according to a letter Linzy presented to the elected officials.

"We definitely need togetherness in this town," Linzy said.

"I think they will need time to read what you have given them," Mayor Reed said.

The fall festival weekend would also include competition between choirs, a car show and other activities, according to the letter.

In other business, several Crenshaw citizens urged town officials to move quickly to repair leaks and the heating and cooling system in the Sam Lapidus Memorial Library building. Concern about the libary repairs appeared to gain momentum following the split vote over a "pre-written check" for $3,500 with which the mayor had purchased a used van for the town.

Mayor Reed said that the library roof repairs were "being held up until the insurance adjuster was able to check it."

The mayor said that two estimates had been obtained for the repairs to the library central air system and he was attempting to obtain a third.

"The process has got to speed up," said Franklin Rayburn, whose wife, Martha, is library branch manager. Rayburn said that one of the library’s computers had been damaged by leaking water and that if repairs were not made soon, "it’s going to cost us a lot more."


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