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Hazlehurst joins grant pursuit

By Bonnie L. Jackson, News Editor

Hazlehurst’s Board of Aldermen were busy with several important issues at their most recent meeting of Tuesday, April 5.

The Aldermen approved paying $59,000 as the city’s portion of a grant (contingent upon its award) that will purchase new communications equipment for the police department that will allow local law enforcement agencies to be able to contact each other and state agencies at all times, especially during disasters.

According to Randle Drane, Direct of Copiah County Emergency Management Agency, the total amount of the grant is $239,992.20 and includes the Sheriff’s Department, Crystal Springs, Hazlehurst and Copiah County.  The amount each agency is asked to pay depends on the level of equipment the agency has in place.  Police Chief Byron Swilley endorsed the plan as one that will improve the police department.

Aldermen approved the contract with the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District (CMPDD). David Wade, a CMPDD representative, advised the board that it will cost from up to $5,000 for the work on Phase 2 of the redistricting process; and the more in-depth annexation study will cost up to $20.000.

Genevieve Harris again came before the board to state her opposition to the proposed annexation plan, but stated that she would support a site specific annexation to accommodate building the new hospital.    

The process was begun to declare the Turning Point Club, located in the BFW building on Georgetown Street, a public nuisance. Chief Swilley read a list of complaints filed by Beall’s Body Shop, a local business in the same area, against the establishment for littering and  for fights that were investigated by the police department.

Ward 3 Alderman Shirley Sandifer said, “This will not be tolerated in Ward 3. We have talked to the owner in the past with little success. We can’t allow this to go on in my ward.”

Olen Bryant, City Attorney, will draft a letter to the owner, who was present with his attorney.

Chief Gabriel Harvey, Fire Department, requested and received approval to accept Justin Bland’s resignation and to hire Willie Owens. Owens is pre-certified and is slated to attend the fire academy.

Chief Swilley received approval for the following requests:  an upgrade in pay for Officer RaMonica Catchings who completed her training at the police academy, resignation of an officer, and the ability to attend a chief’s conference on the Mississippi coast.

The board approved the following items for the water department: allowing one member of the water department to attend office training, and allowing Superintendent Lloyd Hillard and Dwight Brown to attend a seminar to maintain their license for the sewer department.

Ronnie Anderson came before the board to as for help clearing up a discrepancy with some land he owned.  The land has been declared in the county until 2010 when Anderson received notification that it now fell within the city limits. The board also informed Anderson that this was a matter to be resolved by the tax assessor.

The April Claims’ Docket was approved after several issues were addressed: Alderman Frank Jones raised concerns about the amount being paid for cemetery work and the actual work being completed. He and other members voted for a second time to stop the work until claims made for work already claimed could be verified. Payment of $2,364.10 to Beall’s Body Shop was explained as payment to repair a wrecked police car.

Alderman Rick Akin requested an executive session to deal with concerns regarding the Fire Department. The City Attorney Olen Bryant stated that the board had voted 3-2 to transfer a Dodge Charger purchased for the chief  to the police department and purchase a truck for the chief.  The Mayor vetoed the vote.

The meeting was adjourned until Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 6 p.m. at City Hall on Extension Street.  The public is invited to all regular meetings.

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