Tough school traffic stance eyed

Published 5:10 pm Wednesday, July 16, 2008

With the start of a new school session less than a month away, Alderman Bill Winborn brought up school traffic on Mississippi 53 and illegal parking going on in the turning lane in the afternoons.

Winborn said that people use the turning lane to form a line well in advance of the required pickup time. He requested the board allow Police Chief Charles Fazende to talk to Superintendent Carl Merritt about a solution that will keep people from feeling the need to park in the middle of Miss. 53 to await child pickup.

Parking in the middle of a state highway is illegal and dangerous, said Winborn.

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“If one person gets killed, is it worth it?” he asked.

The board said Fazende could speak with school officials to get them to come up with a better way for afternoon pickup. The Aldermen said the city should take a “no tolerance” stance for violators who line up and park in the turning lane.

The city awarded a bid to have new playground equipment installed at City Park. Mayor Billy Spiers opened bids earlier this month. The board took them under advisement, then chose Jeffcoat Fence Company of Pearl, which bid $24,050.04.

The bid includes installation, but does not include rubber mulch to form the base under the equipment. The board decided it would seek the best price on the mulch at a later time.

The playground equipment is being purchased with a $25,000 grant donated by Mississippi Power Co.

In an ongoing effort to clean up the city, Aldermen authorized Marcie Johnson, building inspector and property maintenance director, to send letters to residents who have piled limbs and debris at roadside.

The board is requesting the residents arrange with the city to have the debris removed. If the residents do not want to pay for the service to remove the debris, the city will then pick the debris up and place the charge on the resident’s next utility bill.

Residents may contact City Hall to arrange for pickup. The city charges are $10 for a small truck load and $40 for large dumptruck loads.

Aldermen discussed the city doing some cleanup of its own at the city barn. Johnson requested a dumpster to be added at the city barn area.

Spiers said the city needs to set the example for cleaning up the town.

In other business, the city voted to add six part-time police officers to the roster. They are: Aaron Tarver, Shane Edgar, Bryan Patrick McRaney, Joe Garcia, George Dominguez and Brad Wells.

The city entered into a one-year agreement with County Tax Assessor Gary Beech to take over the tax billing for city residents. Under the agreement, city residents will get one tax bill from the county that will include city and county taxes. Beech’s office will send tax revenues to the city, and the city will pay the county tax office a fee for handling the billing.

The city opened a bid for doing a pavement overlay on a small stretch of road in the Industrial Park. The bid from Huey Stockstill Inc. came in at $52,150 which is twice the amount of a grant awarded to the city for the project.

Don Walker of The Walker Associates engineering firm in Hattiesburg said that the bid is based on $190 a ton for asphalt. That price is in stark contrast with the approximately $80 a ton price for asphalt during the city’s repaving project this past spring. The price of asphalt has increased as oil prices have increased.