M’hall Board considers water tank ownershipBy MARLAN JONES,
The Mendenhall Mayor and Board of Aldermen held their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday March 6.
In February the board tabled an agenda item regarding the purchase of Simpson County maps from Liberty Marketing. Maps had been purchased by the city in the past and were given to travelers and tourists who stopped to view City Hall. The board took no action and the item died, because the city had already received approximately 50 maps.
Several items on the agenda were centered on the Mendenhall Armory. Nazareth Day Care requested to list the Mendenhall Armory as an evacuation site in case of an emergency. Alderwoman Janna Miller left the meeting during the discussion. The aldermen stated that the city would be liable for any accidents that took place if they allowed it. In the event of a natural disaster or other emergency situation, Mayor Todd Booth said that the armory would likely be utilized by the city and open to the public anyway. Heart of David Ministry requested use of the armory for no charge. It was deemed illegal to allow a private organization to use the facility for no charge, and the request was denied.
The board approved the purchase of two ads, one from Mendenhall high School and the second from the Simpson County Chapter JSU National Alumni Association. Alderwoman Janna Miller got the ball rolling on forming a Neighborhood Watch program in each ward last month. Commander Clay McPherson was present at the meeting to give a brief presentation to the board on how to start Neighborhood Watch programs.
He said the only ingredients needed were motivated individuals, a few concerned residents, a community organization, or a law enforcement agency that can spearhead the efforts to establish a Watch. The individual or group would then need to organize a small planning committee of neighbors to discuss needs, the level of interest, and the possible community problems.
McPherson said the Mendenhall Police Department would have to be involved. He advised the board to schedule a day for training. He said he would provide training and help in any way he could. McPherson also explained that additional benefits to having a Neighborhood Watch program would mean an increase in property value. He described it as a “win-win” for the city. The board planned to schedule training in the near future.
The board approved Angie Fortenberry and Latasha Millis to attend NCIC training, and terminated Kenneth Smith from public works.
A discussion was held concerning the water tank on Water Tank Road. The board previously approved an inspection of the water tank for $1,650 to see if it would be worth investing to help additional customers on city water services. After some research Booth explained that the tank did not belong to the city. He explained that at some point in the past, a previous mayor signed off on a deal relinquishing ownership of the water tank. Mayor Booth previously reached out to the Economic Development Foundation about using the water tank located on Highway 43 but was turned down because of a potential business considering buying the property.
Booth said that the water tank would help approximately 256 customers if the city could purchase it, but he has yet to revisit the request with the Economic Development Foundation. When asked about purchasing the water tank back from its owner, Booth said it was a possibility.
He said, “But by buying it back we would be taking a chance. We are not sure if we can make what we wanted to do with it work.”
He explained that it was feasible to invest in the tank when it was believed to be owned by the city. Now engineering studies would be needed to assess how many customers the tank would help.
Matt Abbott provided an update on the fire department. He said the department responded to 11 total calls in February , attended two speaking engagements, and had three visitors to the station. Also three new certified volunteer firefighters joined the station. He reported that there was a minor problem with the tornado sirens, but the issue is scheduled to be fixed by ComSouth.
At the conclusion of the meeting Matt Abbott was surprised by the board with a new vehicle. A 2018 Ford Escape SUV was parked in front of City Hall. The vehicle is an asset of the Mendenhall Fire Department, and is to be used by Abbott while carrying out his duties. The vehicle was paid for using municipal fire funds, and cost $22,406.
Booth said, “It was something nice that we could do for Matt, and he has earned it with the good work he has done for the city in helping us get our fire rating down.”