City votes to clear Garan lot

By Russell Hood The Webster Progress-Times

City leaders have given final go-ahead for demolition of the entire Garan building, two months after opening bids for the project.

After opening bids on the sale or demolition of the property on Highway 9 South, the Eupora Board of Aldermen, on April 2, accepted a bid of $37,500 from Mississippi Demolition and Recycling of Eupora to tear down and remove all the building, including slab.

Aldermen revisited the matter on May 7 because the bid offered was misinterpreted. According to meeting minutes, MDR owner Jim Smith was actually offering to either pay the city $37,500 for materials scrapped from the building or demolish the building to the slab at no cost to the city, nor would he pay the city for any materials scrapped.

The item was tabled until Smith could be contacted to determine the length of the bids offered and how long he would honor them.

To Clear Lot During a special called meeting on May 17, Mayor Tommy Lott presented a drawing of how he would like to see the building developed. He proposed tearing down the north end and developing the south end into four rental spaces.

Discussion followed as to the cost of roof repairs, electrical work and plumbing, and how long MDR would honor its bid to tear down all or part. Lott agreed to obtain cost estimates, and the board tabled the item until its next regular meeting.

Lott opened the discussion on June 4 by saying the consensus of board members was to tear the whole building down, which he recommended be done. He noted that any grants that might be available to develop the existing building are tied into providing a minimum number of jobs. Additionally, he estimated the cost of reroofing the building (the major cost) at $160,000.

Ricky Newton (Ward 3) said during the discussion, “We need to go ahead and get rid of this (the building).”

The board then approved his motion, which was seconded by Vickey Patterson (Ward 1), to award the contract to MDR to completely clear the lot at no cost to the city and to extend its time to do so until March 31. Billy Brister (Ward 2), who is Smith’s brother-in-law, abstained.

Water Department Also on June 4, aldermen adopted a job description as amended for a Water/ Wastewater Department trainee and created an interview/ screening committee for applicants.

A recommendation will be made at the July board meeting. The board voted May 17 to advertise a full-time position with the primary duty to be reading water meters.

Westwood Lots Based on a recommendation of the mayor, the board voted to allow the city to mow at least six overgrown lots in Westwood Park at least twice a year and place the cost as a tax lien on the deeds. The cost of each mowing will be assessed at $40 per lot.

The owners have not paid the taxes on the lots in years, but various taxes on them have been paid at city and county tax sales, according to minutes of the April 2 meeting. The minutes state the lots are a blight to the neighbors and need mowing.

Aldermen voted then to send letters to all parties that have an interest involved asking that they clear the lots for the health and safety of the neighborhood. The mayor, at last week’s meeting, said the city had received no responses to the letters.

Tackle Football After discussion with Park Director John Prather, aldermen authorized him to proceed with a tackle football city league program for youth ages 12 and under. The city will buy and provide all equipment for players (except cleats) after the registration fee of $150 each is paid. The equipment is to be properly stored and maintained.

Brister and Dan Burchfield said they felt the city should discourage any competing organized teams from using city ball fields and that it should enforce policies on the minutes about renting them. The rental cost for use of a city field by a private organization is $100, whether for practice or play, and such use must be scheduled with the city in advance.

Other Business In other business last week, the board voted to:

• adopt two resolutions granting ad valorem tax exemption requests to Ansell-Hawkeye. One was for an exemption for the balance of 2006 assets (2012-15) and the other was for exemption for 2011 assets. Final approval must be given after approval by the state Tax Commission.

• award contracts to Chlorination and Controls of Brandon for grant- funded stationary ($46,875) and portable ($48,995) generators; C&C submitted the lower quotes for each.

• contract with Watkins, Ward and Stafford for an audit engagement.

• declare that all furnishings in the Community Center and Depot are to remain in those buildings.

• name Patterson as the city’s delegate to the Mississippi Municipal League’s annual conference, which starts June 26.

*approve budget adjustments presented by City Clerk Lesa Hardin.