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Park Renovations Near Completion

City Board (from left) Mayor Bill Norris, City Clerk Vivian Snider, Aldermen Fred White, Charlie Harris, Sherry Martin, and Betty Ruth Swearengen.

By Jack Gurner

WATER VALLEY – Renovations at Baker Street Park should be completed by the end of the month, Mayor Bill Norris announced at the regular first Tuesday meeting of the Board of Alderman on May 5.

“It looks mighty bright over there,” Norris said as he described finishing touches being put on new playground equipment. “They’re doing a great job.”

The city had up to three years to complete the project under term of the Mississippi Development Authority grant. If completed by May 31, the work will have only taken seven months under the leadership of community volunteer Levert Hawkins.

Among other actions, the Board of Aldermen:

• Approved payment of $1338.07 to the Burns Law Firm;

• Raised the pay of city part-time workers from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour starting June 15. The hike will put the current workers’ pay at the same level as that of ten workers who will be hired under the federal WIA (Workforce Investment Act) Summer Youth Employment program.

The $.70 per hour raise comes five weeks early for the current city part-timers who will be covered by the increase in the minimum wage already mandated for July 24.

Applications for the federal WIA program are available at city hall, the high school, and at WIN Job Centers. The program is for youths ages 14 through 24 and will run from June 15 through August 1.

“This is part of our stimulus package,” Mayor Norris said.

“Is that it?” asked Alderman Sherry Martin. “That’s all we got?”

“This is our first thing,” the mayor responded. “It’s just slow coming.”

“I got on-line today and read Travis Childers’ earmarks,” Martin commented on the federal economic stimulus program. “Water Valley is not in it. I wanted everybody to know that,” she added;

• Approved the purchase of two Halsey Taylor water fountains for the Crawford Sports Complex.

Mayor Norris explained that two of the same type fountains were found in a building at the Water and Sewer Department and that they would be used in the city parks. Fountains for Baker Street Park would be considered at a later date;

• Took under advisement bids on an 80 kW generator for the Water and Sewer Department. The bids ranged from $30,782.20 to $52,275;

• Approved payment of invoices totaling $3650.24 for Baker Street Park under the grant from the Mississippi Development Authority;

• Reappointed James Moody to a five-year term on the board of the Water Valley Housing Authority;

• Tabled “for a couple of months” a request from Census 2010 to partner with the city.

The request came from a representative of the US Census Bureau Dallas regional office that is responsible for the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

“Have we been involved in the census before? ” asked Alderman Martin. “Is this something new?

The mayor explained that this is a new program and the purpose of partnering is to work with local organizations to get the word out about the upcoming census. “We’ll be working together to make sure everyone fills out a census form,” Mayor Norris said.

More information is available at the regional website:;

• Agreed to lower the price of the garbage bags available from the city from $8 to $7. City Clerk Vivian Snider said that the company supplying the bags had reduced the number per box from 50 to 40 and had lowered the price;

• Closed the meeting at 7:17 for an executive session that lasted 30 minutes;

• Went back into regular session at 7:47 and hired Ben Allen and Robert Turner as part-time employees of the Street Department and then voted to post and advertise for a full-time employee for the Water and Sewer Department.

• Received an update from Street Department Superintendent Mike Scroggins on the repair status of the city’s late-60’s model Caterpillar D5 bulldozer. The city has already spent more than $30,000 on the bulldozer over the past two years.

Scroggins said that repairs are on hold awaiting an estimate and he recommended that the board consider replacing the 40-year-old machine.

• Adjourned at 7:51.

Alderman Lance Clement was not present for the session. The next regular meeting will be June 2 and it will be the last for the current board. The new board is set to take office on July 6 and they will meet July 7.

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