From the Desk of the Gazette City Editor: Magnolia Redirects Efforts to Move Fire and Police Departments

A second Board meeting for August was held on Tuesday, August 17, 2021, at City Hall.
During this meeting, the Mayor announced that she and the Police Chief, Sonya Woodall, met with the Pike County Board of Supervisors last week to discuss obtaining the former Magnolia Health Department Building on Hwy 51 from the county and repurposing it as the new Magnolia Police and Fire Department faculty. As you recall previous article, the City was attempting to renovate the former Movie Star Factory Building. However, when the estimated costs to renovate 6,000 sqft. of the 24,000 sqft. building came in at over $2.6M, the effort was abandoned. The Mayor’s discussions and efforts with the Pike County Supervisors was successful. During Tuesday’s City Board Meeting, the Board approved the move and directed the City attorney to draw up the documents needed to have the former Health Department Building donated to the city.
City Editor’s Note: In the past months, I’ve reported that the city has reserved over $850,000 for this initial renovation effort through a $500,000 state funded grant, $250,000 loan, and $100,000 from Capital Improvements. The state grant funds can only be used on a faculty owned by the city. Hence, the need for the building to be donated to the city from the county. The Pike County Supervisors will proceed with a final vote, once the paperwork is received, at one of their regular meetings in September.
I am concerned about moving city faculties from Magnolia’s city center and business areas; however, the Health Department Building is a much better option than the track the city was pursuing with the Movie Star Building. Perhaps, if the current Magnolia Police Building (which includes the Community City) can be nicely upgraded with the current $250,000 grant obtained for Community Center upgrades and used to revitalize city and community events, then this would mitigate concerns of the Police and Fire Department relocation.
During the meeting, the Board approved the purchase of a 1999 Pumper Fire truck from the Mississippi Forestry Service for $100. The Pumper Fire truck holds 2,000 gallons of water. The Board also approved the surplus sale of the 1985 Ford Pumper Fire truck and 2005 Dodge Caravan via a surplus sale. The Fire Chief also reported that the City was attempting to obtain a generator and pumps from the Forestry Department.
In other business, the Board approved Herzog CPA Company, LLC to perform the 2020 audit at an estimated cost of $8,184. Tashia Dillion, the new City Clerk, and Priscilla Thompson, the deputy City Clerk, were approved to attend Budgetary and Payroll 2021 training from BBI, Inc. in Flowood, MS on August 24-25, 2021. BBI provides the city’s software supporting the city’s administrative functions.
Jwon Nathaniel, was approved to serve as the City’s Judge Pro Tempore. From earlier this month, Shequeena McKenzie was appointed the City Judge. Jwon Nathaniel is currently a city judge for McComb.
The Board also approved a submission of documents to the state for a waste water user update charge. The application or update must be submitted by December 2020.
City Editor’s Notes: From the Board’s discussion it appeared that the charge decreased, but it was difficult to hear the total discussion. This appears to be a mandatory requirement to the state (I assume DEQ) that has not been done in a number of years.
A representative from Neel-Schaffer presented the city’s plan to submit an application to the Transportation Alternative Program 2021 MDOT TAP Grant program. This grant request would be used to implement a “phase 3” of the Reid Park expansion. Reid Park is located in the south part of Magnolia and is used by many residents as the “walking park.” The Phase 3 expansion would increase the walking trail by 1,500 linear feet (approx. a 1/4 mile). The Board discussed potentially arranging the walking path to provide a view of the creek (reinforcing the “Senic River’s theme for the area) and potentially lighting the park. The lighting of the park seemed to be cost prohibitive at this time. The MDOT grant being pursued is a 80/20 matching grant with the estimated costs to Magnolia for the project (at this point) being between $38K and $54K, depending on the implementation options selected. Previous improvements to Reid Park were obtained from a Recreational Trails Grant program from the state.
The Board also approved opening an account at Citizens Bank to manage funds from the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Program for Mississippi Counties and Municipalities. The city has received approximately $56K from the state and will use the funds to reimburse itself for COVID related expenses to-date and future costs to address COVID related issues.

by Terry Jackson, Gazette City Editor – [email protected]

on September 8, 2021, 11:14 am

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