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Wesson selects new police chief

NEW POLICE CHIEF – Chad O’Quinn, an officer of several years in both the Wesson Police Department and the Copiah County Sheriffs Department, was promoted to the position of Chief of Police by Wesson aldermen Tuesday evening. O’Quinn replaces retired chief Steven Carlisle, whose last day was Friday, May 30.

After a 75-minute closed executive session to interview candidates for the position on Tuesday evening, Wesson mayor Alton Shaw, the five aldermen, the board attorney and town clerk all emerged so Shaw could announce that police officer Chad O’Quinn had been promoted to the position of chief of police in the town of about 1,800.  A ceremonial unanimous vote by the board was taken moments later after a motion and a second were received from Kenneth Roberts and John Welter, Jr., respectively, to make the matter part of public record.

The item was one of many handled by the board during the town’s regular monthly board meeting Tuesday evening.

O’Quinn has been an officer with the Wesson force for several years and works also with the Copiah County Sheriff’s Department’s K-9 drug dog unit.

“After interviewing the two candidates, the board felt O’Quinn’s experience was best suited for the position,” Shaw said after the meeting adjourned. 

During the meeting and before the interviews began, Shaw and the board thanked former police chief Steven Carlisle, who was present with his wife, for the many years of service that he dedicated to the town.  Carlisle’s last day was Friday, May 30.  Shaw announced that Wesson Town Hall will be the site of a reception for Carlisle on Sunday afternoon from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m and invited the public to stop by.

Two other personnel matters were handled in open session.  Firstly, the board approved an increase in minimum wage as required by law for four hourly employees.  Secondly, aldermen gave final approval of changes to the personnel manual.  The changes involve a transition from allowing sick time and vacation leave to now giving each employee so many personal days.  “This move will cut down on abuse of sick leave and is in line with other towns in the state, ” Shaw explained.  Both measures passed unaninimously.

In other matters, the board approved paving work on the east end of Factory Street that will be followed by work on a ditch on Wesson Street in about six months.  Factory Street is in need of repair from the railroad all the way to the western end past Custom Seed, Shaw explained, but the town only has enough to fund work on the eastern, most critical side.

The work is expected to cost around $14,000 for Factory Street and around $12,000 for the Wesson Street project.  Shaw said that the town is working on securing federal aid to help with the funding of future street repairs, since state money has been allocated already.

“We have several commercial and residential areas with critical needs, but just can’t get to them all at one time.  But, we can work on them on a priority basis,” Shaw explained.

Rick Stevens, Copiah County 911 Coordinator, discussed a potential problem that his office and emergency responders could face if they were called to the area around David Britt Street in Woodland Hills subdivision.  He advised board members that street numbers in the area needed to be scrapped, and that a whole new numbering process would ensure that emergecy responders could find addresses in the area much easier and quicker when called.

 “Starting over from scratch is the simplest and most efficient way to handle this,” Stevens said.  After aldermen offered their cooperation, Stevens said that his office will notify the residents of the change and will advise the Post Office and the solid waste removal company of the new addresses, but that residents will have to handle the rest of the changes themselves.

A street light was approved for an area on Second Street where two new houses have recently been completed and a third is being built.  The approval is contingent upon a visit by three of the aldermen during evening hours to determine if there is in fact a need for the light.

Mayor Shaw reminded the board and residents that the bill Wesson pays for street light electricity usage runs up to $1,400 per month.  Adding more street lights, therefore, is a higly selective process.  Shaw said that the safety of the residents comes first and foremost, however.

The aldermen resolved to accept changes in the voting procedure of the Mississippi Municipal League, appointing Shaw as the town’s delegate to the upcoming convention of the organization.

The speed limit on Sylvarena Road inside the city limits was altered from 35 MPH to 45 MPH.  Shaw reminded residents that the police department patrols the area regularly with radar and has issued several speeding citations in recent weeks.  A crossing area will be marked for slower speeds at the daycare intersection.

The aldermen voted to officially declare the Wesson Furniture building, which once housed offices for the old Wesson Mills, as a historical landmark.

Claims for May and the minutes from the May 6 meeting were approved routinely.  A discussion about building a new road to the lagoon was tabled at the end of the meeting, and an agenda item concerning Bailey Cable was scratched, since representatives of Bailey could not attend Tuesday night’s meeting.  The meeting was recessed until July 1 at 7 o’clock in the evening.


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