ABERDEEN – For the past few weeks, garbage pick up service has, at times, been off schedule for Aberdeen customers due to mechanical issues. During July 19’s board of aldermen meeting, the matter was discussed by both city leaders and public works employees splitting their time to maintain mowing and garbage pick up responsibilities.
“For citizens who don’t know, the trucks have been down. The trucks have been up,” said Ward 2 Alderwoman Lady B. Garth during her input.
She and other members of the board briefly spoke about the delays in garbage pick up service.
“Not only are we not going to catch up, but grass is taller than it’s ever been. My thing is we’re double worked without the pay. We’ve been putting more on ourselves because we feel the pain of our citizens out there. We’re trying our best to make it official to them that we do care,” said public works department employee Willie Sykes.
He asked the board if workers could be compensated more pay for the extra work.
“As a part of your work schedule, we understand you’re under the street department. Under this emergency situation, people are actually doing different jobs. That’s what we ask you to do,” said Mayor Charles Scott.
The matter was to be addressed during executive session, but no action was taken.
Scott expressed appreciation to city workers and also to Monroe County and West Point’s solid waste departments for letting the city use their trucks. City workers have also picked up garbage using a pickup truck and trailer when garbage trucks have had mechanical issues.
Later in the meeting, two sanitation employees were terminated. Without elaborating on details, Garth asked if charges were filed against one for allegedly damaging property.
“We’re trying to get a report from technicians who worked on two trucks to see if there was damage by the individual. We’re just trying to get the evidence in descriptive form and present it to our attorney and go from there,” said public works director Richard Boone.
During its previous meeting, the board of aldermen approved a contract with Monroe County for solid waste pick up, but county officials are still discussing the matter. During July 22’s board of supervisors meeting, Monroe County Solid Waste Manager Tony Ligon said he met with Scott and Boone about dumpsters being placed for the county to first transition into serving commercial customers.
In a separate public works matter, board members also expressed their thanks for improvements to potholes.
For an action item, the board approved to set a public hearing dealing with 18-wheeler parking for Aug. 8 at 6 p.m. in City Hall’s courtroom. Scott said after the meeting it will give citizens and truck drivers an opportunity to voice concerns in order for 18-wheelers to park at a secure location. The city has made efforts in recent months to allow for 18-wheeler parking at the former Holley Performance plant.
Aldermen also approved to temporarily close RV camping at Morgan’s Landing due to storm damage. The city will devise a plan to address the matter.
Dealing with dog ordinances
In recent weeks, the city has put forth more efforts to enforce dog ordinances. During citizen input, Travis Jones shared his concerns about the city’s pit bull ordinance, which was adopted in 2009.
“We’ve had too many citizens complain about dangerous animals running up and down the road or getting loose. We’ve had several citizens actually attacked. In order to mitigate some of these cases, we enforce the rules we have on the books,” Scott said.
Jones started a petition against the city’s pit bull ordinance. Scott said Aberdeen’s ordinance is modeled after state statute.
“The bottom line is the ordinance is there, and it’s going to be enforced. You have the right to do whatever you’d like to do but we have the right to protect the citizens of this town,” said Ward 1 Alderman Robert Devaull.
Animal control officer Pedro Clay said the city is in its rights to have the ordinance.
“Some cities in Mississippi ban pit bulls altogether. You can’t have them period,” he said before addressing the board. “You have the right to change it, but what’s on this book is what I’ll enforce until the day I retire from the City of Aberdeen.”
As part of public appearances, Aberdeen School District Superintendent Dr. Andrea Pastchal-Smith shared her 90-day entry plan in her new role, which includes a focus on student success, safety, school pride, community partnerships and building high expectations. She is in the process of sharing the plan throughout the community.
“It’s important that we’re building a culture of high expectations for all. We know if we set the tone, the students will rise to the occasion. We, as leaders and teachers, have to let them know what’s expected,” she said.
Smith wants to improve parental involvement in the schools and has plans to implement a Superintendent Student Advisory Council in which students in grades five through 12 will give input.
City leaders and meeting attendees, alike, shared their enthusiasm with Smith’s plan.
“I see so much promise ahead, and I do know it takes all of us to be on board,” Scott said. “Our school is one of our number one things that allows us go out and recruit new businesses. We look forward to supporting our school system. We have to be all hands on deck.”
Monroe County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chelsea Baulch gave a general report about how the organization has helped the city, including aiding in federal and state grants, showcasing the port, working to develop the Parkway Hotel, devising master plans for upgrading all industrial sites and marketing them.
“So often when we apply for these grants, I’ve touched four or five people, and she has touched four or five people and by the time we’re actually putting a grant together, they have all the dignitaries across the state of Mississippi signing off on it. It’s a tremendous impact to our opportunities when we receive those grants,” Scott said.
He recognized Baulch for her efforts and also for establishing the narrative for the city to secure $4 million in grant funds for the port last December.
City engineer Dustin Dabbs was approved to advertise for a drainage project for Parkway Drive, which includes a small culvert replacement on Jefferson Street since the drainage corridors are linked. Mill and overlay contracts have also been executed for thoroughfare improvement projects on Highway 8 and South Meridian and South Matubba streets, and the project awaits funding to be delivered through a recent taxpayer-free bond.
Aldermen also approved a quote from Hanna Contracting for site excavation and grading at the Aberdeen Electric Department’s new building alongside Meridian Street. Demolition work has begun on the project. Later in the meeting, board members gave their blessings for an open house/ribbon cutting ceremony to be held after it is completed.
In another electric department matter, aldermen approved the low quote from Sunbelt Solomon for transformers.
“Due to the heat advisory that we’ve had lately, we’ve been going through a lot of transformers and have tried to get them repaired. Some of them can be repaired and some can’t be repaired,” said Aberdeen Electric Department General Manager LaMarcus Thompson. “With all these projects we’ve had lately – the Post Office and The Pointe Shopping Center – we’ve used a lot of transformers. I don’t want us to get to the point that we don’t have any.”
Aberdeen Visitors Bureau Director Tina Robbins said her department is administering three different grants it received for updating its logo and digital templates and new murals to prepare the city’s new art trail. One of the new murals includes a set of angel wings on the side of the Aberdeen Park and Recreation building.
She and city clerk Melissa Moore recently met with a web designer regarding an upcoming update to the city’s website. The city will have the capability to update content after it goes live.
Gavis Davis, office manager of the WIN Job Center, shared details of its services to help employers and job seekers.
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