By Russell Hood
The Webster Progress-Times
An alderman has proposed that the city ask Webster County supervisors to consider locating county offices in the former Garan manufacturing property.
Jerry Gary (at large) presented a “Garan Property Proposal” during the Aug .5 meeting of the Eupora Board of Aldermen. Gary said he would like to see the city smooth up the lot on Highway 9 South and sew grass on it to prevent erosion. A suggestion was made to contact county Extension Director Lisa Stewart for her recommendation.
Gary also proposed that the city adopt a resolution asking the Webster County Board of Supervisors to consider locating any additional county offices on the city-owned lot. A city-county complex was mentioned as an option.
“I want the board (of aldermen) to go on record to that effect,” Gary said. “I’ve had several people come to me (about doing so).”
Gary originally said he would like the resolution to state that the city requests that the county consider locating the “courthouse or parts of the courthouse” in the Garan lot. However, Burchfield and Hugh Gibson (Ward 3) recommended that the terminology “county offices” be used instead.
The courthouse in the county seat of Walthall burned in January and the Webster County Office Building is being used as a temporary location for courthouse offices. The discussion included whether a countywide referendum would be required to locate the courthouse in Eupora. “It’s never gonna happen if we don’t start it.” Gary said.
Burchfield recommended that members of both boards meet together first, and aldermen voted to table the matter until their next meeting, which is Monday at 6 p.m. Burchfield told the Progress-Times later that the proposed joint meeting would not be for anything specific, but in regard to cooperating.
The Board of Aldermen also discussed the fiscal 2014 budget, which the board worked on July 23, 25 and 30. Aldermen completed the first draft of general city, and water and sewer budgets on July 30, according to the minutes.
Burchfield recommended that this be a continuing item and said a budget summary should be ready for approval at Monday’s meeting. The board plans to have regular meetings twice monthly, on the first and third Mondays, until an undetermined time.
Bonita Martin, branch manager for Regions Bank in Eupora, and Cheryl Holmes, treasury management officer from Regions’ Grenada office, made a presentation about the bank’s commercial card program.
The program would provide the city with a purchasing card, which is a credit card with controls used to pay vendors instead of checks. The card itself would not cost the city anything and includes a revenue sharing program, in which an annual rebate is paid based on total annual spending.
Aldermen tabled the matter until Monday; the city will have to seek bids for the program if it decides to participate.
In a matter tabled from July 1, the board accepted City Clerk Gail Newton’s recommendation to keep all bank accounts as are with CB&S and Regions banks following her review of bids for official depositories.
Upon Burchfield’s recommendation, the board voted to pay invoices of approximately $2,900 from C&G Railway for right-of-way easements. Payment of the bill had been tabled from the regular meetings in June and July because C&G has not kept its property in the city clear of grass and weeds.
“We don’t have any legal basis for not paying it,” Burchfield told aldermen last week.
During discussion of the city’s contract with Mississippi Regional Housing Authority IV, which had been tabled from July 1, Burchfield reported that the city does receive money from MRHA: 10 percent of the rent collected in Westwood Subdivision.
The mayor said he still plans to meet with Region IV’s executive director. In June, a planner with the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District recommended that the city contact Region IV officials about possible federal grants to overlay Westwood Park.
“All we need is $50,000 to pave that street,” Burchfield said.
Aldermen spent an hour and 10 minutes in executive session to discuss personnel; no action was taken.
In other business Aug. 5, the board voted to:
• allow the Choctaw County chapter of the Mississippi Daughters of the American Revolution to meet in the Depot once a month in exchange for twice-monthly cleanings through Dec. 31, with the option that the city can cancel the agreement with 30 days’ notice. The motion also stipulated that a related policy be in place before evaluation and extension of the rental agreement.
• block off Main Street (North Dunn) between Fox and West Roane avenues for a block party hosted by World Harvest Outreach Ministries on Oct. 19. The Christian-themed event is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. and will be to celebrate the church’s one-year anniversary.
The board also agreed to keep the Community Center unlocked during that time for use of the restrooms, with the church being responsible for cleanup and the building’s condition.
• contract with Eric Gore to remove stumps on city property as indicated at $30 apiece.
• contract with Aaron Burgess for installation of radio-read water meters in Walthall.
• raise Street Department employee Joseph Mann’s pay 50 cents an hour, having completed his probationary period.
• table authorization of billing of fire calls until Monday.
• table acceptance of annual supply bids until Monday.
• table a proposal for gun control on municipal property until September.
• table discussion of a donation request from the American Red Cross until the first meeting in October.
• accept a $2,9994.66 donation from Mississippi Delta Shows for use of the Garan lot for parking during its July 25-27 carnival here. This includes rental of $1,000.
• accept a donation for fireworks sales in the Garan lot ($858 from sales and $220 for rent/permit)
• take out a full-page color ad for $125 in the Eupora Eagle Football Booster Club program for the express purpose of advertising, to be taken out of the economic development budget.
• appoint Junior Shaw (Ward 1) as the city’s representative to the Golden Triangle Waste Management Authority advisory committee. This matter had been tabled from July 1.
• grant a zoning variance for Robert C. Mays and Denise Perkins for the building of Perkins’ HOME Grant house at 120 W. Clark St. This is only for the zoning setback restrictions.
• table discussion of Whites Creek Lake dam inspection until Monday.
Gibson reported that the Mississippi Ethics Commission had issued an advisory opinion addressing the appointment of Jacqueline Meek as board attorney and reappointment of her husband and law partner, Buchanan Meek Jr., as municipal judge.
The opinion states, “The law partner of the part-time municipal judge may be appointed by the board of aldermen as city attorney. If the town appoints both of the individuals to the positions in their individual capacities, no violation of Section 25-4-105(3)(a) should occur. To comply with the public policy set forth in Section 25-4-101, Miss. Code of 1972, the city attorney and municipal judge should completely recuse themselves from any matter coming before the town concerning the other.”
The former section states that a public servant may hold only one position with the authority of the governmental entity of which he or she is a member, officer, employee or agent.
The latter section addresses conflicts of interest and improper use of office.