Jim Luke appointed City Manager

Published 1:53 pm Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Picayune’s City Council officially appointed former Police Chief Jim Luke as their city manager.

For the past six months Luke has been serving as the Interim City Manager, but at Tuesday’s City Council meeting the council made his placement in that position permanent.

Over the past six months Luke said that both Deputy Chief David Ervin and Deputy Chief Bryan Dawsey were the Picayune Police Department’s interim Police Chiefs, and that stance did not change Tuesday after the announcement. Luke said after the meeting that he still has not made a decision on who will be the city’s Police Chief. According to the city manager form of government, which Picayune employs, the city manager conducts all appointments for each of the city’s department heads, including police chief. The City Council chooses the city manager. Luke declined to give a time period for the appointment of a new police chief.

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After Luke’s appointment was announced he thanked the council for their faith in his abilities to serve as the City Manager and thanked his wife, mother and children for their support.

In other business the council approved selling a $30,000 lawnmower to the Pearl River County School District for $9,000. City Operations Manager Harvey Miller said the mower has only been used for about 80 hours in the five years that it has been in the city’s ownership. The mower was donated to the city by Chevron and Mississippi Power, Miller said.

Council member Larry Breland asked how the city came to the price agreement between the city and the county school district. Miller said at first the city attempted to sell the mower to the Picayune School District, but that school district declined, so the city then approached the Pearl River County School District about the mower in an effort to assist them, and came to an agreement. Miller said since the sale was between two governmental agencies the sale of the mower did not require first going out for bids.

“We do think the price is very fair for a five year old mower,” Miller said.

All members of the council approved it’s sale to the county’s school district. Miller said the money will be used to purchase a new Xmark mower.

City Clerk Priscilla Daniel presented the council with an updated budget report for March of this year and during that presentation council member Jason Todd Lane asked how sales tax collections were coming along compared to projections. Daniel said so far the city is about 3.4 percent below what they budgeted for the fiscal year.

The city also agreed to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the county concerning county wide emergency communications. Janet Guidry with the Picayune Fire Department said the memorandum of understanding pertains to a grant that the county was recently approved for to be used to purchase new 700 MHz radios for all paid law enforcement and paid fire responders in the county. Deputies with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department have been testing the new communication system for about a year.

County resident Frank Egger again spoke to the council about the state of the Mississippi Mall, which burned due to a furniture store fire several years ago. He said the current state of the building is an eyesore and on two separate occasions he has seen people illegally scavenging scrap metal from the site.

Mayor Ed Pinero said the city has been engaged in a long legal process to free up the more than $1 million in insurance money the city received as a result of the fire to remedy the situation. Pinero said he hopes to have some progress in the situation after a discussion in Tuesday’s executive session. A decision on that discussion was not available by press time Tuesday.

In other business the council;

— Tabled consideration of bids to conduct repairs on the water towers located on Stemwood Drive and Meadowgreen.

— Approved a special use permit to Sidelines Bar and Grill to sell alcoholic beverages containing an alcoholic content of less than 5 percent.

The next regular council meeting will be May 3 at 5 p.m.