Magee reduces funding for Simpson County Development Foundation

By PAT BROWN,

Mayor Dale Berry and the Magee Board of Aldermen have reduced funding for the Simpson County Development Foundation, stating that they are “tired of being the bell cow for funding of economic development projects in the county.”

This decision came despite the fact that the majority of project locations for the Development Foundation have been in Magee.

The board also dealt with other topics at their January 2 meeting.

As part of the Wreaths Across America project, it was reported that the City of Magee distributed approximately 1,000 live holiday wreaths to be placed on veterans’ graves.

Mayor Berry reported that cameras have been installed at the Magee Airport.

Berry implored the board to make a decision about food trucks and where they could set up in the city.  He said, “This has been going on too long.”  He stated that either zoning restrictions had to be enforced or the rules had to be changed, adding that he did not care either way.

Berry then reported that an inmate of the city jail had stopped up the plumbing in the facility by shredding little pieces of a mattress and flushing them down the commode.  He said the city was having to buy a Roto Rooter and that before all was said and done, repairs would cost the city over $5000.

The inmate is being held for another jurisdiction.  It was indicated that once he served his time out of state, an indictment would be issued in Simpson County for that cost and that once he has served his time on those charges he would face charges in Simpson County.

According to Berry, the city is facing issues with burst pipes because of recent cold weather.  Before underground repairs can be made, a “one call” must be made to determine where other utilities may be located.  If the problem is in the road, the Mississippi Department of Transportation must also be contacted, Berry said.

He reported that repairs have been made to several fire hydrants.  He also reported that City Fire Marshal Charlie Valadie is able to make repairs to some of the hydrants, which is saving the city “a lot of money.”  Valadie said that four hydrants are currently in critical need of repair.  He said the city has implemented a policy of testing the hydrants every six months to  ensure their serviceability.  Valadie said this should help improve the city’s fire rating.

According to Phillip Magee with the Magee Volunteer Fire Department, there are over 375 hydrants on the Magee system and over three times that many valves.  He said that when repair and service work is done, all the valves should be checked.  The city is currently using GPS to locate each hydrant, some of which have been in place since the 1920s.

The colors of hydrants indicate their condition and level of function.  Black is non-functional; red is low flow, less than 500 gallons; orange is 500 to 999 gallons; green is 1000 to 1499 gallons; and blue is 1500 gallons plus.

One reason that frequent inspection of hydrants is necessary is that shrubbery grows around the hydrants and prevents them from working properly.  Valadie said that sometimes they are struck and bent and are not serviceable, and sometimes an accident affecting a hydrant is not reported.  Magee said there should be a 3-foot barrier around hydrants.

The board discussed the new truck wash located next to Love’s Truck Stop on Hwy. 49.  The Department of Environment Quality had contacted the business applying for a location, asking them about potential problems to the city with chemicals used in the wash running off in storm water.

The board also heard an update on the disposition of the former Magee Elementary School building.  It was reported that the board would only have to pay for a title opinion in their acquisition of the property for a Head Start center.  Board members have discussed whether there was a reverter clause requiring that once the property was no longer in use for a school it would revert to the original owner. 

City attorney Bruce Smith and school board attorney Wesla Leech have been in conversation on the issue.  Smith told the board that  some of the restrictions the school district was asking the city for were not required unless they were specified in the deed.