Thursday, November 19, 2009
Citizens, board discuss flooding
By SUE WATSON
Announcing the findings of a flood plain audit done by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, city zoning administrator Felicia Autry informed the Holly Springs mayor and board of aldermen that two violations must be corrected.
The city has not been using the proper forms, and property annexed by the city several years ago is not shown on the city’s flood panels, she said in a Nov. 3 meeting.
The board unanimously voted to correct these two measures and then the mayor and community weighed in on flooding concerns.
DeBerry said the city must comply in order to apply for state and federal grants for things such as community development block grants.
“We have to get flood elevation certificates for stuff built after 2002,” he said.
He said the flood zone maps have not been updated since 2005 and must be updated by 2010. Some flood zones will change and there may be more areas in the maps.
“That does not mean it will flood (in those areas),” the mayor explained.
Edith Taylor, a resident in the Meadows, cited an old problem of flooding at a bridge in the creek at the Meadows that was remedied by addition of rock.
“I received a letter from (former) Mayor Smith but now all the bricks are washed away,” she said.
DeBerry said the city has addressed the Nunnally Creek problem. All new construction moving forward will have to take flood elevations into consideration if something is built in a flood plain, he said. Not all of the Meadows is in a flood plain, he said.
The board then appointed Autry as flood plain manager.
Later in the meeting, Clencie Cotton brought before the board the matter of a partnership to bring a WIN Job Center to serve Holly Springs and Benton and Marshall counties. The county lost its part-time job center when the state consolidated offices several years ago, causing local people to have to travel to Southaven or Oxford for services.
However, in September a group representing eight government entities, Three Rivers Planning and Development District, and Northwest Community College met to discuss a partnership to relocate a WIN Job Center in Holly Springs.
“This was a matter where Mississippi Department of Employment Security had changed the consolidation approach and Holly Spings was placed back in the picture, providing we got buy-in from the two counties and each municipality,” Cotton said. “They have provided (a proposed) budget. Northwest would be contractor for it.”
Cotton said there have been good responses from most entities including Benton and Marshall counties and Byhalia. The county has reaffirmed it will provide an in-kind contribution of $56,000 a year to provide office space in the old Superintendent of Education’s office when they move into new offices, Cotton said.
Three Rivers, Northwest and Sen. Bill Stone want to know where the city stands on the issue.
“I believe other entities are waiting to hear,” he said.
“We would have to get a motion to recall it to the table,” DeBerry said, alluding to the fact that the matter had been tabled while the mayor was out of town during the mid-October regular meeting.
The board approved a motion to bring the matter back up.
Cotton said Northwest has provided a proposed budget of what it would cost each entity and the college would be prepared to operate the center.
County supervisor George Zinn joined Cotton in explaining the position of the board of supervisors.
“I am committed to a WIN Center and want clarification on who will be doing what,” said alderman Russell Johnson.
DeBerry restated his connections with Northwest and Three Rivers and said he didn’t get the impression the two entities were “on board with this.”
Alderman Calvin James said discussions about a WIN Job Center among various groups has been confusing.
“It’s like a pipe that keeps leaking,” he said. “We need to go ahead and repair. Why don’t we just come together. It needs to take place. It’s too sketchy; the mayor’s saying one thing and you another.”
DeBerry made it clear he is looking for a financial commitment from Northwest and Three Rivers before committing the city.
“I don’t need a meeting,” he told James. “I need to see if they are underwriting this concept.”
Zinn said a lot of effort has been made to get the center.
“All the players were at the table,” he said, referring to an initial meeting in September. “The budget (budget plan, not the money) is provided by Three Rivers.”
“Northwest and Three Rivers are saying, ‘We support the idea and are committed to make it happen.’ They want you to say that.”
“The county has given us a budget,” said DeBerry. “In-kind - you can’t pay salary in-kind.”
Cotton summarized the proposed budget – a start-up would cost $102,000 annually with $67,000 for staff and office equipment to operate.
“Whatever we can get in addition to the in-kind from the county, we need a commitment from the city saying the amount Holly Springs (is willing to pay) so Three Rivers would know what the short-fall (in funding) is,” he said. “We want to get from the city a commitment that they will make a contribution and the county has committed to providing a place (office).”
“If they want the city on board, have they not contacted the mayor?” asked alderman Johnnie Bagley.
DeBerry said he thought they were talking about the e-WIN Center MDES had approved.
“It was said the e-WIN Center is a voluntary organization,” said Cotton. “This is about a permanent WIN (Job Center).”
“This city didn’t move the WIN Center; the state moved it,” said DeBerry. “So if Les Range (of MDES) is committed to doing something, Northwest has control of it. It seems to me there is nothing wrong with a memorandum of understanding from these entities.”
The mayor then read off about $25,000 in cost to operate in the proposed budget.
“If you look at that budget, it is laid out and self-explanatory,” said Zinn.
“My concern is that all players are committed,” said Johnson.
“I would like Three Rivers and Northwest to make a commitment because they are the major players, financially,” said the mayor. “If Northwest and Three Rivers do not commit, we don’t have a game plan.”
“Bickering back and forth is not good for the people,” said Johnson. “Why not all 10 players (entities) get to the table and go forward?”
No action resulted.
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