By Russell Hood
The Webster Progress-Times
A Westwood Drive resident addressed city leaders last week about what was termed a public nuisance in his
Bobby McMullen of 167 Westwood aired his concerns to the Eupora Board of Aldermen on Aug. 4 about problems arising from a vacant lot behind his house. He spoke of guns and knives being pulled during fights, and of beer bottles being thrown in his back and front yards.
McMullen said this has been going on weekend after weekend for at least six months, adding that a fight occurred there recently and that he had called the Police Department several times.
“I’m asking for some help,” said McMullen, who serves as pastor of 2nd Chance Ministry along with his wife and is president of the Webster County School Board. “I’m afraid they’re going to start shooting. … “I’m concerned about my grandchildren.”
The owner of the property was identified during the discussion as Larry McMillian of 130 Westwood Drive. “He’s operating this out of a shed in the back of his residence,” Police Chief Gregg Hunter told aldermen.
McMillian, 64, was charged with operating a business without a permit last year. Hunter said McMillian told the judge it was private property and that he was having a party.
The charge was remanded to the files in May 2013, meaning it can be brought back up. Hunter said the matter is still under investigation and that the Police Department will continue to monitor the activity there.
Hunter said officers also made an arrest there last year for fighting and have filed charges of alcohol possession. Additionally, a man was arrested in that vicinity on July 24 and charged with disorderly conduct.
Mayor Dan Burchfield asked Hunter if any state statue applied under which the establishment could be shut down. Hunter suggested a strong letter from the city board be sent to McMillian asking him to cease and desist, putting him on notice that stronger action will be forthcoming if he continues to facilitate parties.
“I’ll serve him the letter; we can start there,” Hunter said.
Jerry Gary (at-large) recommended that McMullen file disturbing the peace charges, but Hunter said he would need to specifically identify who is causing the problem. Burchfield said coordination between the police and sheriff’s departments could increase manpower there if necessary.
After a presentation by Deputy Clerk Kimberly Burgess on a twice-tabled item, the board voted to change the City Hall operating hours to 7:30 a.m-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on Friday from Sept. 1-Dec. 31.
The board will revisit the new schedule in January, with a log of feedback to be kept and presented then.
In other business Aug. 4, the board:
• heard a maintenance agreement presentation from Area Manager Toby Langley of Tank Pro.
• tabled indefinitely payment of right-of-way railroad easements to C&G Railway, and authorized the mayor to send a letter to the appropriate address with an invoice from the city reflecting charges for its upkeep of C&G’s rail lines in Eupora and to mention its violation of the city’s blight ordinance
• accepted the lowest bids from the annual supply bid list.
• accepted the resignation of Dale Pepper as a Water Department employee effective July 7. The board hired Antoine Hearvey last month to replace him.
• authorized the city clerk to run a public notice of hydrant flushings two times beforehand in the newspaper. Interim Water Superintendent Jimmy Hester said the flushing program will consist of every system, mainly from dead-end lines.
Aldermen discussed the fiscal 2015 budget preparation process and tax millage during a special-called meeting July 29, when City Clerk Gail Newton handed out material for review, and on Aug. 4. They were to have a budget work session Monday; a budget hearing must be held and the new budget adopted by Sept. 15.
Additionally on July 29, the board voted to purchase a full-page ad in the Eupora High School Football Booster Club program for $125, with the funds to be taken out of economic development. Planner George Crawford of the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District also met with the board then.