BY JOE B. COATES
Fire protection in the Wesson area took another step in improving during last Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Wesson Board of Aldermen. All aldermen, minus John Welter, Jr., were present at the meeting.
The board passed a motion to apply for a $70,000 grant, good towards a new fire truck. Wesson Volunteer Fire Chief Dustin Brewer told Mayor Alton Shaw and the board that specs had been turned in for the truck, with the next step being the resolution which was passed by the board. After the paperwork is filed with the state, the specs will be gotten together for bidding purposes. Shaw said that the new fire truck will be a great asset, as several years have passed–and the town has taken in more area–since the last truck was purchased.
An executive session was called to discuss the town’s property on Highway 51 north at which the old Sunflower building is located. After a twenty minute closed session, Shaw announced that the town is in negotiations with a firm that is wishing to lease the property, but no agreement has been reached.
An update on the Old Wesson School building/St. Ambrose Leadership College project was given. Shaw indicated that the architect is finished. Next, the structural engineers must prepare the specs for bids to be let on the final phases of the four-year-old project. The town is still holding on to the funds needed to finish the job, Shaw added.
The aldermen took no official action on a property in disrepair, but advised the owner to have made substantial progress by the next board meeting in September. The owner assured the aldermen that he is attempting to salvage as much as he can from the burned home, and that he will be able to spend more time on it over the next several weeks.
Those who have outstanding fines issued by the town but are unable to pay have another outlet through which to eliminate the fines. The board voted to devise a community work service plan which would aid the Public Works Department with several minor projects that haven’t been attended to while providing some form of public service in lieu of the fines. “We can benefit greatly with this program, and the person owing the fine has a chance to work it off,” Shaw said.
The town passed a resolution to farm out the handling of stray animals to Dr. Robert Cameron, a veterinarian in Hazlehurst. A charge of $3 to $5 per day per animal will still save the town money in the long run, Shaw stated, because it removes the responsibility and the risk of housing animals over the long haul in a town-operated facility.
On a related matter, Police Chief Chad O’Quinn advised the board and residents in the area to contact his office when strays are spotted or nuisance animals are uncontained so that swift action can be taken.
Susan Alsbury, town librarian, reported that the Wesson Library reached record levels of usage and patrons in July. Over 1,000 patrons utilized the facility, a new record. Additionally, 101 summer reading participants read over 43,000 pages. Eighty-one received certificates and thirty-four earned awards. Volunteers logged 172 hours in July, also a record, Alsbury noted. She announced that Nikki Costilow was named Top Girl, and Joshua Hamilton was named Top Boy at the end of the summer reading program.
Alsbury also advised the board that space at the library was shrinking rapidly, and asked the town to consider some sort of addition or storage facility that could be built near the facility. The Wesson Friends of the Library has been raising funds to help with such project, Alsbury said, seeing it as a critical need for the future. The board took the request under advisement after a brief discussion.
The town is applying for small municipal grant of $10,000 to help upgrade the town’s buildings to ADA compliance, after the board passed a resolution as such.
Several other routine matters were handled, including approval of July minutes and claims, before the board voted to recess until Tuesday, August 12. At that time the board will have heard a presentation about the town’s Flood Insurance Program.
The Wesson board meets regularly on the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. The next scheduled meeting is on September 7.