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Correctional center to close

By PAT BROWN,

In Monday’s City of Magee board meeting Alderman Patrick Brown reported that the city may lose the correctional work center. 

Brown said he did not want to discuss the details but that a regional alliance might be forming to provide inmate services that are offered to the city.  According to Brown, about 20 jobs  would be affected.

Mayor Dale Berry reported the same information but said inmate services would still be available to the city.  Berry reported that he had contacted local legislators to support keeping the facility open.

However, the Saturday edition of the Clarion Ledger reported that the Magee facility would close.   Monday, Berry confirmed the closure, saying one possibility for dealing with the shortage of inmate workers on garbage trucks is cutting garbage pickup to once a week.  The city recently increased residential garbage fees by $3 per month.

The board moved on to additional discuss food trucks and zoning issues.  They decided to meet again with the zoning board so that these issues could be addressed. 

The board approved the city’s applying for a $450,000 grant to build a senior citizen community center.  Mayor Berry told the board that the city’s contribution would be the land needed as a site for the facility.  The location was not announced, but board members were told that the city has two pieces of suitable land. 

In a discussion about the Magee airport, it was reported that six of the 12 hangars  were “nothing more than storage buildings” and that the tenants were not buying fuel from the airport.  Mayor Berry suggested that hangar rent should go from $95 per month to $195 per month. 

The board approved moving forward with an ordinance to allow golf carts on public roads.  State Representative Andy Gipson said if this is to pass it would require approval by the state legislature before a March deadline. 

The board approved a season pass for use of the splash pad at the Sportsplex for $35 per individual.  The normal usage fee will be $5 per time per individual. 

The board approved an increase in charges for curb and gutter for public streets from the existing $8 per linear foot to $15 per foot.  Berry estimated the actual charges at closer to $28 per foot. 

Alderman Matthew Hickman reported that the Keep Magee Beautiful Committee had been formed and that Lauralyn Barr will chair the committee. 

It was reported that the launch of the event Riding the Block is set for March 2.  There will be food vending and a band, according to Mayor Berry. 

Berry said he is encouraging students to post biographies of black residents on the bulletin board at city hall during the month of February, which is designated as national Black History Month. 

The mayor reported that the budget contains approximately $200,000 for paving.  Five areas are being considered, according to a bid submitted to the mayor by Lance Pearson.  They are referred to as “phases”; however, they primarily represent five different projects, and, according to Berry, reflect the recommendation of city engineer Buddy Wolverton. 

 

Phase one includes:

Bridge to 1st NE

1st NE to Choctaw

Choctaw to 1st Street SE

Second Street SE to Third Street SE

Third Street SE to Fourth Street SE

Fourth Street SE to 149

Fourth Ave. SW

 

Phase two includes:

Ninth Ave. SE

SE Second Ave to First

SE Second Ave. to First

Ball Field

Goodwater Road

Education Drive

 

Phase three includes:

Ballfield parking pad

 

Phase four includes:

Cypress Point Subdivision

 

Phase five

Trinity Point Subdivision

 

Donnie Caughman, director of the Simpson County Development Foundation, updated the board on development activities in the county. 

He indicated that Real Pure Bottling Company may be planning additional expansions.  He said that upon acquisition employment was at 10 employees and now is getting close to 40. 

He discussed the formation of the Foundation in 1979 and said that a majority of effort had been spent in Magee because the original industrial park was in Magee.

 Caughman told the board that unemployment levels are now at an all time low of 4.7 percent.  He reported that one company had to shut down a line because they could not locate enough employees.

Caughman pointed out the large rate of students who graduate from schools in the county, leave, and never return.  He said that through initiatives the Foundation is working on with partners like Copiah Lincoln Community College they are trying to provide more and higher paying job opportunities within the county.

He told the board about the Foundation’s role in transportation issues for the schools as well as working with local healthcare facilities to help recruit professional positions to the community. 

He said, “Unless you are personally involved sometimes it is difficult to keep up with the many issues that the Development Foundation is actually involved with.”