By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – Residents are being urged by city officials to bag their leaves and not just dump them street side.
“Please bag them!” Mayor Bill Norris pleaded during opening comments at the regular first Tuesday meeting of the City Board on Dec. 2. “Put them in a box or sack or plastic bag. It makes it easier for us to pick them up so that they don’t clog our storm drains if we have a heavy rain.”
The Mayor also spoke on the progress made at Baker Street Park. He said the swings had been put up and that the merry-go-round was ready to be installed. “It’s bright and colorful over there,” the mayor said, commenting on the newly painted playground equipment.
Norris explained that the city had three years to complete the project, but he expected it to be done as early as next spring.
During the meeting, the board took the following actions:
• Aldermen paid an invoice from Board Attorney David Burns for $2,941.86. The payment included work by Burns on a grant proposal to EPA for funds to further evaluate possible environmental problems in and around the area commonly referred to as the “Big Yank property.”
• The board voted to take under advisement until the January meeting a donation to the American Red Cross. The action came after Alderman Fred White asked, “Is it legal for us to make a donation?”
The funds were requested by Joe Black, a member of the service district board of directors for the organization. Black had explained the work done locally by the Red Cross that people often don’t hear about including fire relief and military assistance.
“If a resident has a fire in their home, they can come to us and we provide them with some immediate relief and aid,” Black said. “Year before last in this county we spent about $9000 on fire relief. In the fiscal year that just ended the Red Cross spent about $5000.”
Black explained that all the city boards in the county, as well as county government were being asked for help. He requested that Water Valley contribute $500.
• Alderman approved a new bank account for the Electric Department to cover expenses and improvements related to the substation recently purchased from TVA.
• The board approved the purchase of a one-ton truck for the Street Department at the state bid price of $17,324.
• Aldermen voted to approve a bid of $25,300 from Double S, Inc. for asphalt for the Baker Street Park project. The board followed with approval of a bid from Jefcoat Construction of $15,686.77 for playground equipment.
The park project is being financed with a grant from the Mississippi Development Authority.
• The board approved the purchase of a $7820 video inspection system for the Water and Sewer Department. The system will consist of a video camera attached to cable and power supply that is pushed through sewer and drain pipes.
In the past, the city has relied on a Tupelo company to perform video inspections, according to Morris Surrette, manager of the department. The last visit cost almost $3000 for two days.
Surrette explained that the video camera device would also save the city money by avoiding damage to property and city streets. “It would have eliminated us doing some digging,” he said. “This is something we can use every day or two or three times a week for sure.”
• Alderman voted to pay Local Government Services $2000 for their part in negotiating a new pole attachment agreement with MetroCast, the city’s cable TV provider.
The Electric Department agreed to pay an initial $2000 with the city paying the final $2000 if an agreement was reached.
The Electric Department could receive almost $15,000 in additional revenue in 2009 under the terms of the new agreement.
• The Board approved Chief Mike King’s attendance of the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police Winter Conference in Natchez.
• Alderman detoured from the agenda to revisit an issue that was first raised in October. Alderman White had requested that Attorney Burns look into the denial of a claim by the city’s insurance company.
At issue was damage caused by sewage that had backed up into a home on Suggs Street. According to a letter from the company, the problem was caused by an excessive amount of rainfall in a short period and was not the fault of the city.
White suggested that the city could “help out” to which Burns replied that it would not be legal for the city to do so. “That would be the equivalent of using city equipment to do work on private property,” Burns said.
“I think the city should take a step further and try to help these people,” said White.
Burns added it was his legal opinion that it would not be very good policy to take action contradictory to the findings of the city’s insurance company.
• The Board voted to hire Davis Research to do testing for the city’s water system. The company will take the place of James Glenn Taylor who is retiring.
• After 55 minutes in open session, the Aldermen went through the process to enter executive session. They returned to regular session after about 35 minutes behind closed doors and voted to hire Jeremy Bolen as a fireman/dispatcher.
The meeting ended just after 8 p.m. The next regular session of the board is scheduled for Tuesday, January 6 in the boardroom at City Hall.