Thursday, March 12, 2009
City applies for COPS grant
By BARRY BURLESON
The economic stimulus package, the need for additional police officers and tourism talk dominated the meeting of the Holly Springs mayor and board of aldermen March 3.
Don Hollingsworth, public works director, said Holly Springs would be receiving $285,543 through the American Recovery Act, funneled through the Federal Highway Administration and Mississippi Department of Transportation.
He said it can be used on federal routes - meaning there are “only a few places in town where the money can be used.”
He said he would be attending a meeting later last week to submit the following paving projects - College Avenue from West Boundary to the courthouse square and Randolph Street from Salem Avenue to Rust College.
The board of aldermen OK’d the mayor’s signature on the document listing the priorities for the economic recovery program funds.
The funds to municipalities are being distributed through a population-based formula, according to a press release from Congressman Travis Childers’ office.
Other nearby cities receiving funds through MDOT include - Oxford, $421,873; New Albany, $272,983; Senatobia, $239,789; Batesville, $255,255; and Ripley, $196,582.
The Holly Springs Board of Aldermen also OK’d the application process in seeking money for additional police officers through the COPS grant program. It would fund the positions at 100 percent for three years; then the financial responsibilities would fall to the city.
Chief Robert Pearson made the request, asking city leaders, “How many?”
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry then asked Chief Pearson his plans in terms of growth of the department.
“What do you see as your needs?” DeBerry asked.
Pearson said he had three officers on duty per shift and he would like to have four.
“We seriously need someone here assigned to narcotics,” the chief said. “We don’t have that; it’s something we’re working on.”
DeBerry then presented “food for thought” based on the police station’s future move from the north side of the city to the south side. The department will soon relocate from the old MI College campus to the former Williams Clinic building, which is under renovation.
“As we look at areas of the town that are growing, the south side is our critical development area, but it’s away from downtown,” DeBerry said. “We may have to look at a substation in the future.”
If approved, the new positions would be funded at entry level, and a year down the road, if needed, the city would have to make up the difference if raises were given.
DeBerry said, if funded, it would actually be the city’s second round of COPs. He said Holly Springs benefited from the program in the 1990s.
The mayor and board agreed the city needed to move forward with the application process.
Stephanie Movre, tourism director, presented the mayor and board members with copies of the Holly Springs Tourism Bureau’s audit report for the last fiscal year.
Then the group started discussing tourism in the city in general. DeBerry said Holly Springs’ sales tax revenue, in a time of trying economic times across the nation, is remaining “pretty constant” which also means funding for the tourism office is staying steady.
DeBerry suggested a one-page fact sheet about Holly Springs be produced by a local printer and put in the hands of those working at front line businesses - like hotels, convenience stores and restaurants.
“These people need to know,” he said. “They’re ambassadors for our city.
“They can have these at the cash register and be able to say ‘go here or go there.’ Then people will feel like there’s a concerted effort to market the town.”
All agreed the front line workers definitely do not need to be negative - like saying, “There ain’t nothing to do in Holly Springs.”
Movre said many cities are conducting hospitality training for front line people, and it’s something she would like to do in the future.
Mayor DeBerry again urged production of “just a fact sheet - front and back - tastefully done.”
Alderman Garrie Colhoun said, “We need something to hand them - just a flavor of Holly Springs.”
Alderman Tim Liddy, whose wife Lisa operates a bed and breakfast downtown, said she had been receiving lots of calls.
“They’re hearing about us (Holly Springs),” Liddy said.
Movre also distributed some copies of “Preservation Magazine,” which recently featured Holly Springs.
In other business, John Collins, manager of the Holly Springs Utility Department, passed out copies of a letter from West Kentucky Rural Electric. A crew from HSUD recently traveled to the Mayfield, Ky., area to assist after storm damage.
The letter, signed by that electric cooperative’s president and CEO, said, “I would like to thank you for your recent assistance in our restoration efforts following the worst ice storm in Kentucky history. I have never been more proud to be a part of the electric utility family than I was during this restoration effort. Your employees were both personable and professional and they performed the tasks they were asked to perform safely and efficiently.”
The mayor and board again commended the HSUD employees for their outstanding contributions in Kentucky, saying the workers represented Holly Springs well.
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