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Headed for a vote

LOOK AT THIS: Mayor Brad Necaise hands the file of signatures and opinion of their validity to attorney Martin Smith.  Photo by Jodi Marze

LOOK AT THIS: Mayor Brad Necaise hands the file of signatures and opinion of their validity to attorney Martin Smith.
Photo by Jodi Marze

POPLARVILLE — The Poplarville Board of Aldermen Tuesday evening approved a motion to vote on legalizing beer and light wine sales in the city. Only Alderwoman Shirley Wiltshire voted against it.

The date for the vote is Tuesday, March 25.

The board also discussed a new fire truck, passed a proclamation that February be Black History Month, discussed placing names of citizens with warrants out for their arrest in the newspaper and passed a resolution appealing the Section 42 housing law to raise the ad valorem tax for Poplarville Estates.

The discussion over the beer and light wine vote began at the board’s the last meeting when a petition was acknowledged to bring the sale of light wine and beer up for a vote at a special election.

Attorney Martin Smith told the board that once the petition was acknowledged, it was sent to the election commissioner and clerk of court for an opinion on the validity of signatures by registered voters.

“It was referred for authentication and it has now been returned by the election commission as verified with the opinion that Poplarville has 1,612 registered voters and of the signatures on the petition, 329 of those were qualified voters. This gave the percentage of signatures at 20.4 percent. The statute requires not less than 20 percent sign it,” Martin said.

An order prepared to direct the petition be filed with the reports and authorize a special election was made. The motion was passed with only Wiltshire opposing. Alderwoman Maggie Smith was unable to attend the meeting.

A voting date set for Tuesday, March 25, on the selling light wine with not more than 5 percent alcohol content and beer with not more than 8 percent alcohol content was set according to rules on special elections.

The Poplarville Fire Chief Bobby Strahan has been shopping for a gently used ladder truck and believes he has a good candidate for purchase.

Mayor Brad Necaise told the board about the truck found in Texas for a purchase price of $149,000, with 26,000 miles on it and a remaining nine years of life. The vehicle is available and the town that is selling it is requesting a 20 percent nonrefundable deposit.

Strahan said the fire department has a truck worth $50,000 to sell. The department also has parties interested in purchasing it.

“The seller will do a letter stating that other than normal wear and tear – if damage occurs to the vehicle before its release date in June, they will refund the deposit,” Strahan said.

The board voted to send Strahan and another fireman to the town to inspect the truck before deciding to proceed with the purchase.

The board passed a resolution of proclaiming February as Black History Month. Necaise said that the resolution was initiated by the Mississippi State University Extension 4-H program.

The mayor read the proclamation acknowledging the contributions of the African-American community to the nation and local community. Alderman Jason Pearson made the motion and Alderwoman Wiltshire seconded it. The motion unanimously passed.

The board discussed placing names of those with outstanding warrants for their arrest in the newspaper.

Alderwoman Wiltshire gave background on how the idea originated.

“When I was at a meeting, sometime back, West Point’s police chief gave a report of being out $300,000 and ran an article in paper saying they were going to do it and then ran a repeat article the following week. They posted the names at the police station and gave people the opportunity to pay their fines prior to names being published,” said Wiltshire.

Randy Brown voiced his opinion that Poplarville would be better served having former officer Burt Martin work active warrants. Necaise proposed offering him car and gas, but no salary to work those fines of highest value and the more recent fines, which are worth approximately $70,000 fines.

Necaise said the ones older than 120 days are going to be harder to collect but by being addressed in an article and under the threat of names being published, some who owe fines might come forward and pay the fines.

Jody Stuart reminded everyone that it costs the citys $20 a day if someone can’t afford to pay to get out of jail.

Alderman Brown said that would be discussed with Martin and Police Chief Charlie Fazende said he believes the best way to proceed would be to have someone working warrants full time.

Brown made motion that Martin be allowed to serve warrants for the city of Poplarville, which were 30-120 days old. He said they were valued at $500,000 and Martin should be provided fuel and a city vehicle to use, which he will be allowed to bring home with him. Martin would not be paid for the job. The motion was seconded by Pearson. The motion was approved.

The determination on whether to publish names in the paper was not made but at the end of the discussion, Necaise asked about forming a police reserve program and having them process warrants. The board will discuss the matter further in future meetings.

The board passed a motion to raise the ad valorem tax for the area behind Sunflower Grocery known as Poplarville Estates.

Necaise said the ad valorem tax had originally been set very low to accommodate lower income families. The resolution repeals the Section 42 housing law and raises that tax. Wiltshire made motion and Brown seconded. The motion passed.

In other items on the agenda:

*The board passed a motion for re-advertising for position of equipment operator / laborer in the Picayune Item and Poplarville Democrat.

* The board accepted all departmental reports.

* The board went into executive session for personnel issues.