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Mitchell tells of her trip to deliver money to Amish

Kasey Mitchell’s trip to Lancaster County, Penn., to deliver $11,000 in donations from Picayune and Pearl River County was emotional, educational and life-changing, she told the Picayune City Council at its meeting last night.

Mitchell, a senior at Picayune Memorial High School, raised the money as her senior project to help meet the medical expenses of Amish girls shot in an assault on one of that gentle faith and culture’s one-room school houses. The Amish from around Paradise, Penn., a town in Lancaster County, made two trips to Picayune following Hurricane Katrina volunteering their considerable construction skills to help the elderly and indigent and churches with repairs, especially to roofs, damaged by the monster storm that struck Monday, Aug. 29, 2005.

“Amazing” was the key word Mitchell used to describe the people and culture she met in Lancaster, from their ability to forgive someone who had wronged them such as the man who shot the children to their work ethic to their gentle attitude towards each other and everyone else whom they met.

During her time there, from Friday, Nov. 24, through Monday, Nov. 27, Mitchell was treated to a pot-luck banquet at which she presented the check and received the print of a painting of an Amish school bell entitled “Kindness and Compassion,” stayed with an Amish family, met one of the children who had been shot, received a drawing from an Amish boy of police car he had drawn because his sister died in the arms of a police officer in the vehicle following the shooting, participated in an Amish religious service and hymn singing and joined Amish youth of her age for one of their gatherings.

Mitchell maintains contacts with some of the youth she met on her trip and says she expects they will be life-long friends.

Mitchell thanked the City Council, the fire department and city workers for their assistance in raising the money, her mentor Dawn Bechtel for her assistance, her parents and the donors who gave the money for the Amish children’s medical expenses.

In what has become a fairly regular feature of City Council meetings, the council held a hearing on condemning a series of properties in preparation for the city to clean the properties, including demolishing structures, and set the hearing on another string of properties.

Of the 32 properties scheduled for hearings last night, 16 were taken off the list prior to the hearing because the owners had taken action to correct the problems and the owners of three other properties were given additional time to handle the problems, though their properties were declared public nuisances, before the city moved in to correct the problems and charge the owners for the work.

The City Council set Tuesday, Jan. 16, as the hearing date for 23 more properties.

The council approved two matters recommended by the Planning Commission. A property variance for a dentist’s office was approved at 1121 Sycamore Rd. to allow the office to be built on a smaller parcel than its zoning normally would require. Maurice Haralson of 1004 Baylous St. also received a home occupation license to operate an Internet-based home furnishing sales business from his home. The products would be drop-shipped from the manufacturer or wholesaler and he would have no stock in trade at the home.

The council also approved water service for Thomas R. Travis at 1341 Neal Rd., and tabled for further information a request by Michelle Mitchell at 106 Grover Barrett Rd. for water service.

In other business, the council:

— Approved the consent agenda.

— Tabled reappointing Ralph Rowell to the Housing Authority Board.

— Approve soliciting for a certified public accountant to conduct the city’s audit of its books for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2006.

— Approved submitting a revised grant application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a grant of $2.6 million for comprehensive water and wastewater infrastructure improvements.

— Went into executive session on a series of contractual matters, litigation and a personnel matter.

Recessed.