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Bids opened for work on Old Wesson School

Wesson aldermen, represented by Joseph Orr, opened bids for the second phase of the old Wesson school project at last Tuesday’s monthly meeting at town hall.  

This phase calls for structural modifications to the facility, which will eventually be converted into the St. Ambrose Leadership College–a project which involves Co-Lin.  Work on the more than one-hundred year old facility began back in 2004.  Nothing has been done in quite some time, as federal monies promised to complete work on the structure have not yet been released.

A total of nine bids were opened on Tuesday.  Harris Construction came in as the low bidder at $179,900.  The highest bid was $392,000 by Fountain Construction.  Orr said that he would study all of the bids to see which is the best based on meeting specifications and cost concerns, and would make his recommendation to the board at the January meeting.

Mayor Alton Shaw advised that once the funds become available, work will begin “almost immediately.”

The board also took action to purchase a lot located in downtown on Highway 51.  The lot is located between two businesses and has been the target of upgrades in recent weeks.  Public works employees have been tearing down bricks that were once a part of a downtown block of buildings, cleaning them and reusing them to help shore up an area that on the rear of the property that is now a stage.

Mayor Shaw envisions the area as a courtyard with picnic tables, benches, light landscaping and lighting in which residents can relax enjoy the downtown area.  The purchase price agreed on by the town and current owner Jeff Knight is $16,000, which will be funded by monies received recently from FEMA for reimbursement of storm claims from 2008.  The board voted 3-0 with John Welter, Jr., and Bobby Britt abstaining.

Copiah County Emergency Management director Randle Drane advised the board that storm shelter grants–with up to 95% federal and state matching funds–are available.  Drane said that a storm shelter can be created from an existing building, an addition to an existing building or from a new free-standing facility.  

Alderman Britt said that the residents in the trailer park in his ward would stand to benefit greatly, as would others in the area.  “When the weather gets bad, the residents go elsewhere, anyway,” Britt explained.  

Drane said that the pre-application deadline is January 11, 2010.  He advised the mayor and the board to study the best way to approach the storm shelter, and to go ahead and complete the pre-application.

“Then, once we are pre-approved and can apply for the grant, we will be able to further outline our plans,” Drane said.  Mayor Shaw called for a motion, one was made and seconded, and the measure passed 5-0.

Local resident Rita Powell presented the board with plans for a possible spay/neuter clinic that could be located in the town.  Spay USA is a national program that helps provide the operations at low cost.  Powell said that having the clinic located in Wesson will aid in the stray dog and cat problems the town is constantly wrangling with.  “The unwanted animals would simply not be a problem if they are not there,” she said.

She asked the aldermen for help in locating a facility in town and explained other benefits that may be enjoyed.  “It will have a positive impact on the local economy, as the people who come here for the service will be buying gas, eating in restaurants and possibly stopping by the local shops,” Powell said.

No official action was taken by the board on the matter, but Shaw and the board members stated that they would let her know if something became available.

Several routine matters were handled quickly.  The board voted 5-0 to re-hire Charles Hart for the annual finacial compilation.   A potential lease on the town-owned Sunflower property was taken under advisement.  Advertising for a full time position in the Police Department was authorized.  Minutes from November 3 and claims from November were approved.

The board recessed until the January 5, 2010 meeting at 6 p.m. at the town hall.

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