Current board conducts last business

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mayor-elect Brad Necaise got a taste of city government Tuesday evening as Mayor Billy Spiers gave him the privilege of conducting the meeting agenda as Spiers and the current board of aldermen handled items in their last formal meeting.

Spiers and three of the current aldermen – Bill Winborn, John Sherman, and Dr. John Grant, Jr., were defeated in the recent election.

During the meeting and afterwards in closing, various comments showed that Spiers, mayor-elect Necaise and the current and new board members understood the importance of serving in city government.

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Necaise said Spiers had “set the benchmark very high for me … (that) I can even begin to be where you are. You have forgotten more than I probably can know in this next four years. … We can’t really afford for you to go away,” and he included the three outgoing members of the board in that statement.

Spiers said he couldn’t have asked for five better aldermen in the last eight years. “They never agreed with each other all the time but even though they didn’t when they left out of this room they were still friends.”

He then went on to include the service of the city attorney and members of all the city departments. When Spiers began mentioning specific people his emotions showed the bonds that had been formed and had made his time as mayor better.

“I’ve enjoyed my 32 years,” including in that his time as an alderman.

In closing Spiers said “We need to remember it’s not about the alderman or mayor, it’s about our city, everything is about the city. When I first ran for office my momma and daddy told me, ‘Son, if you’re going to run, if you get elected, we expect you to treat everybody just like you want to be treated,” and I’ve tried to do that. ”

On the items covered by the meeting agenda little discussion was required before a vote; one personnel item did consume more time, requiring the board to enter into a closed session to determine if there was a need to enter into an executive session.

The executive session request came after the board began action on an agenda item to add two people to the volunteer firefighter list, Austin Barnett and Ronnie Frayle. In action on that item Barnett was approved on motion by Shirley Wiltshire and added to the volunteer list, but a decision on Frayle’s approval was taken into executive session because it was a personnel matter. Comments made by aldermen prior to the executive session indicated the matter involved Frayle’s earlier employment by the fire department.

After approximately 40 minutes the board came out of executive session. When the board was asked by the mayor for a motion to add Frayle to the volunteer fireman’s the action died for lack of a motion.

In other matters, the board:

-Approved the city policy book after noting corrections and changes, to take effect July 1. The policy book had been discussed in recent meetings and during several prior years. Winborn made the motion that was accepted.

-Approved a motion for a $10,000 bond as requested by the Mississippi Dept. of Transportation on drilling of a bore hole under South Main St. at the new Fred’s construction site for an 8-inch water line. The bond requirement applies to all municipalities in the state.

-Discussed employee health insurance coverage paid for by the city, noting that there would be a 19-percent increase in rates unless action was taken before July 10, which possibly would mean only a 5-percent increase. Wells made a motion to take the matter under advisement to allow the new board time to review the matter and take action before the July 10 deadline.

-Took no action on a short list of code enforcement items, including signs; took under advisement action on six delinquent privilege tax licenses.

-Approved Necaise as the city’s one voting delegate for the July 2013 Mississippi Municipal League conference and Alderman Byron Wells as first alternate and alderman Shirley Wiltshire as second alternate. Approved Brad Necaise, Randy Brown, Jason Pearson, Maggie Smith, Byron Wells, Shirley Wiltshire, and Jody Stuart to attend the MS Municipal League Conference in Biloxi July 15-17. The $235 registration fee, lodging per conference rate, meals and mileage are reimbursed. Approved city attorney Martin Smith to attend the first two days of the conference with a $25 registration fee.

-Accepted the bid of Dale Bennett for a vehicle that had been removed from inventory and after due diligence had failed to get the minimum price requested.

-Approved Ardelia Hackbarth to PERS employer training in Hattiesburg, July 16. No registration fee, meals and mileage reimbursed.

-Removed volunteer firefighter Billy Creel from the volunteer fireman list.

-Approved sending Jonathan Head to Firefighter Officer II Alabama Fire College and approved part-time firefighters for two shifts during the interim and approved a $425 registration fee, lodging at $79.35 per night for five nights with meals reimbursed. The vote was four for with Wells voting no.

-Approved sending Donnie D’Antonio to Fire Dept. Chaplin course in Jackson, July 24-25, $110 registration, meals reimbursed again with Wells voting no.

Adjourned until 5 p.m., Tuesday, July 2, at which time the mayor and board of aldermen would be sworn in. A reception at city hall for the public to meet the new board and mayor will be from 3-5 p.m. prior to the meeting.