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Two honored for saving life, city wins MML award

Two Picyune residents were honored for their efforts in saving another person’s life and the city announced its fifth Mississippi Municipal League win.

Keith Thomas and Kim Weikum were recognized at Tuesday’s City Council meeting for their assistance in saving the life of Reggie Baurers. The two residents were presented with certificates of appreciation by Mayor Greg Mitchell.

Picayune Police Community relations officer Monica Jacobsen was recognized at the meeting for receiving the MML award. This year’s win, for the Pick it up Picayune program, is the fifth in a row for the City of Picayune and the second program to win through Jacobsen’s efforts.

Mitchell then took a moment to honor the memory of former city manager A.L. Franklin.

“Mr. Franklin’s passing is certainly going to leave a void in our city,” Mitchell said.

Council member Leavern Guy then made remarks pertaining to a letter to the editor that ran in Tuesday’s edition of the Picayune Item. The letter touched on issues concerning the loss of $1 million in city utility funds. Guy said that to be perfectly clear the city is not broke, but is experiencing growing pains.

“The city is not on the verge of going broke, or anything like that,” Guy said.

“This city is working hard to be fiscally responsible,” Mitchell said.

At the previous meeting, increases in utility rates were passed in an effort to have the utility department sustain itself. Guy opposed to the increase, saying the increase was too large.

Chief Mark Thorman, a former city councilman, addressed that comment later in the meeting, which Guy repeated at last night’s meeting, and asked Guy what is too much of an increase. Guy said that he did not want there to be too much of an increase where only a few gas customers were paying for the utility budget. Other avenues of generating revenue need to be explored, Guy said, so the city is not dependent on the utility fund to generate extra revenue. Guy did not specify what those avenues should be.

Other residential complaints involved vendors on the side of the street selling wares that hurt local businesses, abandoned vehicles and the alleged lack of park maintenance.

Business owner Henry Charmain said vendors on the side of U.S. 11 in downtown Picayune are not paying taxes or securing vending licenses. Yet he was told he needed tax identification numbers to run his business.

“I think it’s totally unfair for vendors to sell on the side of the road that take away from me,” Charmain said.

Mitchell asked Interim City Manager Harvey Miller to look into the situation.

Thorman asked council member Donald Parker about the status of clearing abandoned vehicles from the Ponderosa area. Parker said he has turned in requests for the code enforcement department to handle the situation and he is doing his best.

Antonio Smith again addressed about the use Snyder Park. Smith said he had planned on using the park to hold a Mother’s Day event, but when he went to the park the fuses were missing from the electrical box for the field lights. Mitchell suggested that Smith contact Miller about the problem.

The council went into executive session to discuss a contractual matter with the train depot and a contractual matter with Neel-Schaffer regarding Memorial Boulevard. Members also discussed the possible lease of office space, pending litigation and an application to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency for drainage cleanup.

Miller said when the council came out of executive session it accepted legal appraisals for the lease of office space at the train depot at $13 a square foot, awarded a contract to Huey Stockstill Inc. for about $1.5 million for phase II of the Memorial Boulevard paving project, took no action on the lease of office space and the Dailey Estates pending litigation and approved applying for the MEMA grant of $4.5 million to be disbursed in phases of about $500,000.

In other business the council;

— Approved submitting an application to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to purchase video enhancement equipment for the police department.

— Accepted a Hazard Mitigation grant for $61,957 from MEMA/FEMA to install storm shutters at city hall.

— Approved an increase to Police Department records rates.

— Approved the purchase of a 2009 Dodge Charger at the price of $22,559 to be paid from the special police drug fund.

— Authorized travel for fire department personnel Barry Lee, Keith Brown, John Mark Mitchell, and Louis Moak to attend Incident Response to Terrorist Bombing training in New Mexico from July 28 to Aug. 1.

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