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Wesson board approves new alert system

The Board of Aldermen of the Town of Wesson met in a brief regular monthly session on Tuesday, January 4 at Town Hall. Much of what was discussed involved routine matters that were voted on and dispersed of quickly.
All five board members, Mayor Alton Shaw and Town Clerk Linda Dykes attended. Board attorney Jeff Varas was absent.
After approving the agenda for the meeting, the members okayed the minutes from the December 6 regular meeting with no changes and also approved paying of the claims from December on those that had come in. Because of the holiday schedule of the past two weeks, some claims may not have arrived; therefore, a second meeting was expected to be called to approve those outstanding claims.
The board members approved paying for a new technology that could save lives of Wesson residents. A new alert system that sends out text messages and emails to residents, makes automated local phone calls and can be used to promote events in the town will cost the town around $2,000 per year, Mayor Shaw said.
Once the system has been installed, residents will be able to sign up online to have alerts sent to them automatically. Alderman Billy Ellison, who is employed by Co-Lin, said that the college has similar system that “works very well and keeps us informed of weather warnings, events at the college and more,” Ellison added.
A contract will be signed to allow BlackBerry Connect to set up and maintain the system. Mayor Shaw and one other town employee will be the only administrators locally who can send out messages.
Mayor Shaw stated that the town has installed fences around the north and south water tanks–at the directive of the MS State Health Department–for a total cost of just over $8.000. “Had we not complied, the town could have been fined upwards of $35,000 until we did,” Shaw explained.
Shaw also said that the town is seeking grant funds to help cover the costs of repainting the water tank at Co-Lin, which is expected to have a total price tag of well over the $120,000 cost to repaint the north water tower on Highway 51 in 2005.
“Let’s face it–since ’05 costs for materials have gone up, and this tank at Co-Lin is much larger than the north tank,” Shaw said. Funding could come from a variety of sources, however. The mayor reminded the board members that the town has around $55,000 in a CD that was has been set aside for purposes such as this. He is also expecting rebate funds from federal government based on tax treatment.
Board members suggested that Shaw take up the project with the district’s U. S. Representative and Senator during his planned trip to Washington, D. C. in February. “I have this and other items on my agenda. We’ll see what happens,” Shaw said. No deadline for painting the Co-Lin tank was given.
The board members unanimously approved Mayor Shaw’s annual trip to Washington to lobby Congress in February, which the officials are hoping will bring back funding for a variety of maintenance-type projects around Wesson. Shaw will be traveling with a loose consortium of mayors and officials from other municipalities from throughout Mississippi that are similar in size and budget to Wesson.
Alderman Bobby Britt asked Shaw to stress the need to replace much of the town’s aging water system and to improve areas where drainage problems occur frequently during rainstorms. Shaw said that he was told recently that the cost to upgrade the entire water and sewer system in the whole town would be close to $10 million, in addition to street work and paving that would have to be done. “I’m going to do my best to get a heads-up on how we can do that,” Shaw said.
• Work on the Old Wesson School is nearing completion. A recent water problem in the neighborhood around the school was solved, and the next step will involve finishing the lower inside floor minus the elevator and chair lift so that the building can be functional. The town plans to promote it as a destination for weddings, parties and other celebrations.
• Several final compliance letters are being sent to property owners in Wesson who have been asked by the town to clean up their property several times over the past months and years. Those that are out of compliance face a lien on their property if and when the town has to send its own workers on the property to cut grass, chop down overgrown bushes, haul off materials and the like. “It’s been a long time coming,” said alderman Mike Douglas. Those property owners could be fined up to $100 per day and have to make an appearance in city court if compliance is not met.
• Two 100-amp automatic indoor generator transfer switches were declared surplus and will be offered for sale at $500 each.
• Shaw said that the year-end audit was completed in December–though the official report from the State Auditor was not ready, yet– and was advised that “all funds were appropriately accounted for.”
• New back-up power generators have been installed at the police department and town hall.
The board recessed until Tuesday, February 7. The members meet the first Tuesday of each month at Wesson town hall as required by the state to conduct the business of the town and hear, on an official level, from its residents.

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