Board of Aldermen look to a bright future in 2022

Published 4:27 pm Friday, January 14, 2022

In 2022 the city of Poplarville’s Board of Alderman has three goals in mind.

Those goals are to improve economic development to create more jobs, improve infrastructure, and improve civic and community engagement.

Mayor Louise Smith reflected on how COVID has impacted the city of Poplarville in 2021 and addressed the disconnect COVID made on the community, which include delayed improvements and changes and the loss of family and friends.

Smith plans to leave the damages caused in 2021 by COVID, and recover. She believes the Poplarville community will grow exponentially this year.

“We are resilient people, and we know recovery is in us.” said Smith. 

“Our city government is working to revitalize relationships in our community in order to make our town more economically viable.  We are very fortunate to have many existing assets and distinctive resources to help us rebuild our economic foundation,” Smith said.

Alderman Bobby Nestle has several street projects he wants to see accomplished in 2022. Reconstructing Larkin Smith Drive is one of them.

“Larkin Smith Drive is a big street that’s going to be a big expense but I think we can get it done and I think it will be a big improvement, especially with the corridor there and the college being there,” said Nestle.

The project has been tabled several times, mainly because of its high expense. But Nestle believes the Board should act on it.

“It’s just going to get more expensive if we don’t do it,” said Nestle.

Stabilizing the work force within City Hall and the Public Works Departments is another goal. City Hall had a big turnover in staff. Previous City Clerk Jane O’Neal resigned along with Payroll/Accounts Payable Clerk Renee Bridges and Municipal Court Clerk Jourdan Smith. According to previous coverage, O’Nell resigned after the Board hired a new Public Works Assistant at a higher pay rate then her own. The Board is still looking for a city clerk, but has hired a deputy clerk.

“Some of it kind of was expected… but hiring of the public works assistant is actually a forward looking goal because we know that Sam (Public Works Superintendent) is going to retire, and that was the purpose of that. It’s to get him in there and fully trained prior to Sam’s retirement,” said Nestle.

Under Police Chief Daniel Collier, The Poplarville Police Department worked hard to implement the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), said Smith. 

The benefits of NIBRS includes a greater accuracy in reporting offenses, collecting more detailed information, helps give context to specific crimes and provides greater analytic flexibility.

The Police Department is also moving into its new station, where Mississippi Power Company’s office in Poplarville used to be located on West Cumberland Street.

Under Fire Chief Jason Bannister, the Poplarville Fire Department received the classification of a rural fire department. This qualifies Poplarville for the State Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Assistance Program that provides matching grants up to $70,000.

Public Works Superintendent Sam Hale completed the city of Poplarville’s Utility Emergency Response Plan and is working with the city engineer to develop a five-year water plan.

The city has partnered with several companies to provide housing, clean up areas and soon install security cameras.

Code Enforcement Officer Kolby Davis has worked with property owners to clean up Todd Trailer Park across from the Upper Elementary School. The city of Poplarville is currently partnering with Mississippi Regional Housing Authority to redevelop the vacant and abandoned Glendwild property on Martin Luther King Drive, Smith said.

The Board has received $712,705 in ARPA funds that can be spent this year on projects. Some of those funds may be used towards the five-year water-rebuilding plan.

“The huge possible water system project is top on our radar for 2022,” said Alderwoman Anne Smith.

In previous meetings the Board discussed future project ideas, such as a community center, a project Nestle fully supports.

“That’s been something I’ve heard from the citizens long before I ever deiced to run for office and for that to come up in the last meeting really sparked my interest,” said Nestle.

Nestle does not expect the project to be complete in 2022 but he wants to get the ball rolling.

Louise Smith and the Board of Aldermen promise to think bigger this year.

“We are accepting a challenge in 2022 from Ben Carson, MD.  We are planning to think big… We will embrace the leadership challenges of being held responsible and accountable for our work.  We will continue to work diligently to overcome obstacles and challenges. Our town government will lead with collaboration, transparency and innovation to build a community where people grow and thrive,” Louise Smith said.