Thursday, July 12, 2007
HSUD busy on array of projects
By SUE WATSON
The mayor and board of aldermen in Holly Springs heard department reports, approved four bids for utility projects and touched on the Main Street program at the July 2 meeting.
The Holly Springs Utility Department will let bids for the Holly Springs/Benton County water project; Phase I of a water and sewer project at Holly Springs Commons; a signal and street improvement project at Highway 7 and Crescent Meadow Drive (Wendy’s/McDonald’s intersection); and a natural gas project to Red Banks.
Rights-of-way are in hand and the intersection and red light design is underway for the intersection at J.M. Ash Drive and Highway 7, according to Don Hollingsworth, public works director.
HSUD manager John Collins reported on engineering and construction planning for the Holly Springs Commons.
Overhead lines will be extended to construction sites at the medical clinic and hospital since the exact positioning of underground electric service and transformers is not yet determined, Collins said. As development progresses, the underground service and feeds will be installed.
HSUD has a preliminary plan for locations of water and sewer to the area under development.
The board approved requests from Collins for two gas service workers to train in safety procedures and for one employee to attend the national electric code conference.
Aldermen also approved a $53,000 expenditure for a sewer lift station.
In police department matters, the board authorized chief Robert Pearson to apply for a Rural Development grant for two police cars and for a Department of Justice grant for three school resource officers under the “Secure Our Schools” program. One officer was approved for School Resource Officer training in Hattiesburg.
Fire chief Kenny Holbrook was authorized to apply for a sirens early warning system grant through the Homeland Security Hazards Mitigation program. The grant requires the city to match 25 percent of the cost of the equipment.
Ken McMullen, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, was authorized to travel to the national Parks and Recreation Association meeting.
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry apprised the board he will discuss cost-sharing for grounding rods at the football field with school district administrators. The Mississippi High School Activities Association requires grounding of overhead light poles, goal posts and other structures, he said.
Information Technology director Ken Robinson advised the board that instructors will be back at the IT Center in August. Three candidates for administrative assistant were introduced to the board. The assistant will help with scheduling of all training classes at the center as well as do general office work.
Susan Jordan, director of the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce, urged the board to prepare for an August 31 deadline for application to the Mississippi Main Street program.
Rust College has committed resources to the project.
The minimum area covered in Holly Springs Main Street would be the square area, Memphis Street and the MI campus area, DeBerry said.
Alderman Russell Johnson urged that the entire city be open to inclusion in Main Street, saying that mostly professional service enterprises are located downtown.
More retail is needed to bring back business to downtown and business operators need to be willing to stay open later than 5 p.m., DeBerry said.
“I want to keep existing businesses and it is important to have an active, vital downtown,” Jordan said.
The project would require a full-time staffer and office space and the Main Street Program would supply certain services to members - for example, consultation, workshops, conferences, newsletters, and other services for a fee such as a one-day assessment, a design workshop, or long-range visual analysis.
Jordan and Liddy said the application requires a budget.
“We need to know what we are committing to - the operating budget,” DeBerry said. “We need to see if we are committed to the long haul. We need to look at logistics of downtown and pull the walking trail into it. If we track the commercial, the business districts and Memphis Street, we can expand to the commercial districts.”
Liddy said the project is to revitalize downtown areas.
“Anybody in the city can sponsor or be a member,” he said. “You have a bunch of empty buildings downtown and no businesses to support it. You have to have good positive leadership in the city.”
The mayor said off-square areas should be included and Johnson said the city needs to hold on to the retail it has downtown and encourage owners of empty buildings to get businesses in them.
DeBerry added that businesses close at 5 p.m. but working folks don’t get off work until then.
Liddy agreed that some after five shops would help a lot.
“It helps in recruiting industry, too,” he said. “There needs to be a place to take developers (at night).”
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