By Russell Hood
The Webster Progress-Times
The city is beginning the process of hiring a new police officer.
The Eupora Board of Aldermen voted Monday to advertise for two weeks for a full-time policeman. The action followed a 40-minute executive session with Police Chief Gregg Hunter to discuss police personnel.
At the request of Hugh Gibson (Ward 3), the board was to also discuss the need for a night/weekend police dispatcher during the closed session. This matter had been tabled from Oct. 21.
The action follows the Oct. 23 death of Officer Keith Crenshaw, who was struck and killed after deploying spike strips to stop a car with fleeing robbery suspects.
In a matter tabled from Oct. 21, the board discussed requests on a petition from Rich Castle to make a four-way stop at Gold Street and Fox Avenue, and a three-way stop at Holman Street and Fox Avenue.
Castle, who came back before the board about the matter, cited the danger drivers face when pulling out onto Fox from Gold and Holman streets when cars are parked along Fox close to both street corners during church time on Sundays. First Baptist and First United Methodist churches are located at the respective intersections.
Hunter said if the additional stop signs were installed on Fox as requested, he was concerned about potentially causing a problem because traffic would be stopping on the busy street at two locations in close proximity, especially during school traffic times.
He also asked the board to take into consideration the loss of parking spaces from having to designate no-parking zones at the proposed stops. Hunter said the number of accidents in that area has not been high.
Castle also requested that the city designate Clark Avenue one-way from the Eupora High School parking lot going toward Joliff Street. Mayor Dan Burchfield said the school administration had requested that two-way traffic be allowed on Clark in that area to decrease traffic congestion/danger because of the addition of sixth-grade students at EHS.
Burchfield repeatedly called for any action on the agenda item but no alderman made a motion and the board moved on to the next item of discussion.
The board did vote Oct. 21 to put a three-way stop sign at North Gold and Clark streets, which has since been done. The Street Department has also installed a new “Do Not Enter” sign at the end of the one-way alley on the east side of the EHS parking lot facing Clark.
On Oct. 21, after discussion with county Fire Coordinator Barry Rushing, the board voted to offer the city’s 1980 fire truck to Webster County in exchange for $50,000 in grant money from the state Fire Marshal’s Office.
Officials thought then the grant money was available to the county but that it was unable to use it. However, Rushing reported Monday that the grant money — which was to go toward a new truck for the Walthall Fire Department — has not been allocated. He said the best shot for the grant money is to wait to apply during the state’s next fiscal year, which he plans to do for three departments.
The board voted to change the project proposal in the city’s pre-application for a Federal Aviation Administration grant to runway striping and land clearing on the north end rather than repaving Airport Road from Highway 182 to West Airport Road. Aldermen voted Oct. 24 to authorize Calvert-Spradling Engineers to proceed with the pre-application, which is due Nov. 15. The grant would require a 2.5 percent match.
The board went into executive session to discuss the Whites Creek Lake property maintenance area, citing potential litigation. Back in open session, the board authorized Alderman-at-large Jerry Gary and the mayor to negotiate the best terms for the land maintenance acquisition for the city.
On Aug. 19, the mayor had reported problems the city has with the legal descriptions dealing with the lake levee and a possible land swap on the west side of the entrance to Gary Park. He said the city needs to clear and maintain a strip of land that it doesn’t own at the base of the dam.
On Sept. 3, aldermen authorized board attorney Jacqueline Meek to conduct a title search on the land beside Gary Park in order to swap the land below the lake levee. They also authorized the mayor to obtain quotes from two surveyors and then award the job to survey the land adjacent to Gary Park based on price and timeframe.
Water Superintendent Benny Neal reported that the city plans to begin flushing water lines next week. People may experience dirty water in their homes or businesses during the process.