Thursday, April 26, 2012
City seeking chief, again
By SUE WATSON
The Holly Springs Board of Aldermen and mayor are back to square one in filling the police chief spot.
The vacancy came up with the firing of chief James Dean just prior to completing his first three months on the job.
At the April 17 board meeting, the mayor introduced the possibility of hiring an applicant in the prior pool, whom he said he called and the man was still available to take the job.
Aldermen Garrie Colhoun and Harvey Payne asked if minutes show the mayor’s recommendation from the last pool would be offered the post if he was still available.
“No,” Mayor Andre’ DeBerry said. “The board just asked me to go back and see if he is still interested.”
“So, where are we at?" asked alderman Calvin James.
“We can go to the original pool or open it up and go out and re-advertise,” the mayor said.
Payne motioned to offer the position to the second choice in the old applicant pool, but his motion failed for lack of a second.
Colhoun said his problem with the applicant DeBerry had recommended originally before Dean was hired was that he seemed to be heavily involved in church work as a pastor.
“I don’t think he would have enough time to devote to full-time police chief with his obligations,” Colhoun said.
Payne insisted, “That was your (the mayor’s) recommendation and I voted to accept your recommendation.”
Payne restated his motion and James offered a second. The mayor asked for discussion but the board was silent. Then a vote on the motion failed, two for and three against, with aldermen Johnnie Ree Bagley-Johnson, Russell Johnson and Colhoun voting nay on offering the job to applicant number two.
Next, Johnson proffered a motion to open the search for police chief up with an advertisement of the position. Colhoun seconded the motion and the motion passed 3-2, with Payne and James voting nay.
In other business, the board:
• opened bids on front office renovation at the Holly Springs Utility Department. Mercer Remodeling and Repair was low bidder at $31,500. Napolean Smith bid $42,000. The board voted to take the bids under advisement.
• discussed a Brownsfield Assessment Request for Proposals. Sole responder was Charlotte Keys, who proposed to write an assessment grant for $5,000. The mayor and board discussed a prior concept of the city and county sharing the $5,000 fee in a joint grant, but Coulhoun asked if the fee would come out of the $200,000 assessment grant, if it is awarded. There is no memorandum of understanding with the county to share the grant writing fee, he said.
Payne said the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality asked for municipal governments to buy into the grant.
DeBerry suggested the city should not set a precedent of funding grant writers where the city has no way of recouping the fee if the grant is not awarded. He said the fee would typically be paid to the grant writer if the grant is awarded and would come out of the grant funds.
“They have to have some skin in the game,” he said. “It’s the luck of the draw; all consultants know that.”
Bagley-Johnson suggested Keys be paid on condition that the grant is awarded.
“We also need to talk to the county to see if an MOU is possible,” DeBerry said.
Discussion closed and Payne made a motion and Bagley seconded – to hire Keys contingent upon her being paid if the grant is awarded. It passed unanimously.
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