City approves voting changes

Published 12:27 pm Friday, January 4, 2013

Picayune’s city council Wednesday night approved the use of computerized voting machines for the next election and a precinct voting location change in addition to discussing some road work that could take place.

The council approved a motion to enter into an agreement with the Pearl River County Circuit Clerk’s office to utilize the county’s computerized touch screen voting machines for city elections, which are typically held separately from county wide elections.

City Clerk Amber Hinton also presented the council with a matter concerning the move of a city voting precinct from the Picayune School District’s Auditorium on Goodyear Boulevard to the Chimney Square building across the street. Hinton said, after the council’s approval of the matter, that the precinct change will be sent to the Department of Justice for its approval.

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The spending of some funds in an account called the Westside Redevelopment Fund also was discussed. City Attorney Nathan Farmer said the account was formed after the city received a grant for redevelopment in an area of the city where lot ownership was fragmented, particularly on and near Rosa Street. Through the redevelopment process, the city came into ownership of some of the lots, and the sale of those lots has put money back into the account, which now totals about $30,937.

The balance of the fund is to be used for work in that same area, such as sidewalk construction, park improvements or to correct drainage issues, Farmer said. Seven to eight lots are still owned by the city and if those lots are sold, the funds also will be added to the account.

Hinton said council member Larry Breland asked for the matter to be added to the agenda, Breland said when the project was initially funded years ago with the grant, the area around Rosa Street was one of the poorest in the city. Breland said he did not have a project in mind for the funds, but when one is proposed he will discuss it with the city manager. The council approved a motion to expend the funds in the account when a project is determined.

The city wide paving project is nearing its end, and about $112,000 is expected to be left that can be used for other road work, said City Engineer Brooks Wallace. There are three projects the funds could be used for, which are ranked in order of priority. The first priority project would be to add a turn lane to Adcox Road from Mississippi Highway 43 North, also known as Sycamore Road. Second on the list would be to pave Runway Road towards the new airport, which was recently annexed by the city. Last would be to do some work on Memorial Boulevard closest to the Interstate 59 interchange. Wallace said just to construct a turn lane on Miss. Hwy. 43N onto Adcox Road would cost $35,000 to $40,000, but the estimate was from about three years ago when the city pulled the permit from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Wallace said the city would need to apply for another permit since the old one recently expired and that new permit could come with new stipulations, such as the need for a longer turn lane that could increase the cost.

The number of projects that could be completed on the list would depend on how long the remaining funds last, Wallace said. The council approved a motion to move forward with getting as many of the projects completed as they can with the remaining funds.

Deputy Chief Chad Dorn was approved to attend a one-day training session in Baton Rouge La., for Police Motorcycle Operator and Instructor re-certification on Jan. 17, at a cost of $150. Maj. Ricky Frierson said while the department no longer has motorcycles in it’s fleet, he hopes to bring them back into the traffic division. Frierson also said if Dorn loses his certification it would cost $1,800 and two weeks of training to reacquire it.

There is still no word on the federal buy out program for homes that flooded during Hurricane Isaac. Mayor Ed Pinero Jr., said his office has been staying in touch with the FEMA office on a regular basis about the program, but so far there’s been no indication of acceptance or denial. The only details known about the program, if it is approved for this area, include approved participants would receive 75 percent of the appraised value of their home, and the deed to the home would have to be turned over to FEMA, which could be accepted as the 25 percent match. In addition, Pinero said the home would be torn down and the lot used as green space, never to be developed again.

The next scheduled meeting of the council will be Jan. 15, at 5 p.m.