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Mayor absent from routine council meeting

Picayune’s Mayor Greg Mitchell, the subject of many recent rumors, was not present at last night’s city council meeting.

Council member Leaverne Guy opened the meeting with a statement that the purpose of council meetings are to deal with city business and discussions would be limited to such. Any questions pertaining to rumors or speculation will be referred to the city attorney. Mitchell was reported to be out sick.

Council member Anna Turnage asked Public Works Director Chad Frierson for an update on the recent drainage problems. Frierson said he went by the affected homes on Lakeside Drive and observed the sink holes in those residents’ back yards. He said he is looking into getting some dirt to fill in the hole that is 12 feet deep but the city will need to do a line repair. The hole involves three yards, though only two residents have come to the city council with complaints, While the line appears to be flowing freely, there appears to be a problem between the line and Michael Roberts’ house. Roberts had stated at a previous council meeting that his home has severe sewage drainage problems.

At East Canal Street, repair work is awaiting bids and the city is still using a bypass system for the sewer. Frierson said his department has received a couple of bids to repair the broken line. Council member Jerry Bounds asked if the damage to the lines could have been caused by heavy equipment used to clear debris after Hurricane Katrina. Frierson said it was a possibility.

“There was a lot of damage. Not only on the streets but along the sides of the streets,” Frierson said.

Interim City Manager Harvey Miller suggested that the city get some pictures of the street and sewer damage and bring those with them when the council goes to Jackson to ask for funds.

Reroofing work of Picayune’s Centraplex received three bids. The lowest bid was from Saucier Bros. Roofing Inc. for $174,100. Two other bids, one from ReflecTech for $246,750 and another from Peach State Roofing for $202,000, also were turned in. Grant Administrator Barbara McGrew presented the bids to the council and suggested that the council approve the lowest bid from Saucier, which the council did.

The council went into executive session to discuss the possible sale of land, four contractual matters, a contractual matter with ambulance service, a contractual matter with MEMA cottages, a personnel matter and possible litigation.

When the council came out of executive session, members approved abandoning an undeveloped street on the south end of Burley Street to be sold at a later date, Miller said. Two of the contractual matters had no action taken but the council did approve a contract with Pitney Barnes for postal equipment services and a contract with Mountaineer Systems for software to do utility billing. Miller said the city will now take over the billing of utility services but will continue to contract out meter reading.

The city also agreed on the contract with AAA Ambulance Service. Miller said the council was waiting on some wording to be worked out before formally approving the contract.

No action was taken on the personnel matter, on the contractual matter with MEMA cottages and on the possible litigation.

In other business the council;

— Approved submitting an application to the Mississippi Department of Transportation for Airport Multi-Modal Funds to construct a hydrant fueling system for the helicopter parking pads. Since the mayor was out sick McGrew asked Mayor Pro-Tem Guy to sign it.

— Approved a request to allow the Picayune Police Department to apply for a $500 grant from Wal-Mart for community projects.

— Approved a travel request for Picayune Firefighters Ricky Saul and Rod Storrs to attend the Incident Response to Terrorist Bombings training at the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center in Soccorro, N.M. from June 23 to 26. All expenses will be covered by EMRTC.

— Approved a request for the Fire Department to conduct a boot drive at the intersection of Canal Street and U.S. 11 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 11 and 12 to raise funds for the Red Cross Heroes program.

The next council meeting is at 6 p.m. April 15.