Wesson board looks for renovation plan

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 3, 2001

WESSON — Some type of productive action must begin soonconcerning the restoration of the Old Wesson School, the board ofaldermen decided Tuesday night.

“We just really need to get something going,” Mayor Pro-tem LuraGreer told other board members during their monthly meeting.

The members agreed that some action needs to be taken to beginrestoring the 1889 two-story school building.

In the past year, two proposals have been made on how the schoolcan be used to benefit the surrounding community. The first ideawas for a multi-purpose cultural arts center. The most recentproposal was for low income apartments to be housed in the oldschool.

Some local residents were not happy with the second proposal,and a petition has been circulating in the town in favor of thearts center. The board hopes to make a decision that will have apositive effect on the majority of the town, board members pointedout.

“Right now the only thing that’s deteriorating is the building,but we don’t want to deteriorate the community,” said Ward FourAlderman Hollis Cowen Jr.

Board members were not in agreement about what the buildingwould eventually become but planned to discuss the ideas more withthe town residents to make a decision based on their approval.

“If the people in the ward over there are for it, then I’d befor it,” said Ward One Alderman Robert Derrick.

Board members believed the majority of the town would be morewilling to support the project if the school is converted into anarts center rather than apartments, but funding may be aproblem.

Paul Cartwright with the Copiah-Jefferson Regional Librarycontinues to seek state funding for the project so the town’s costswould be supplemented slightly, making it possible for the artscenter to become a reality.

“If that can work, I would like that, and if it doesn’t work,then we’ll go with the other possibility,” said Ward Two AldermanJim Lightsey.

Derrick suggested the town pull together and raise money for theproject.

“I think we can send out letters to people and people woulddonate money,” said Derrick.

Donations can be sent to the Copiah-Jefferson Regional Library,223 South Extension St., Hazlehurst, MS 39083.

The next step in the project will be obtaining bids fromcontractors about the costs of putting a new roof on theschool.

In other matters, board members opted to wait until Mayor DavidMcGee returned to town before discussing possible pay raises forsome town employees. Lightsey requested a list of current salariesfor all town employees and a record of previous pay raises.

The board will also meet with the mayor in the next few weeks todecide on a new town attorney, following the resignation of JeffVaras in December.