Wesson looking for ways to improve downtown

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, February 7, 2001

WESSON — The downtown area may undergo major renovations soonwith the guidance of a state organization specializing in suchprojects.

“For about a year now I’ve talked with people in the communityabout the revitalization of downtown,” said Bill Tigner, whopresented ideas to around 30 town residents during the monthlymeeting of the mayor and board of alderman Tuesday.

During his search for ways to fix up the main area of town, hediscovered the Mississippi Main Street Association, which is anon-profit organization working with the Mississippi EconomicDevelopment Council to preserve vital downtown areas across thestate.

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“The association comes in and guides the community. They helpyou identify and capitalize on the assets in your town,” saidTigner.

If the town decides to ask for assistance, the group would holdtraining workshops to help the town learn the best ways to spiff upthe downtown area. They would advise on what type of businessescould be attracted to the area and would use comparisons from othertowns.

“I think it is extremely beneficial,” said Tigner. “The benefitthat we get is networking. . . and by networking people can come upwith a lot of ideas.”

The town residents present for the meeting were very interestedin learning more about the benefits the main street associationwould offer.

“The more excitement you have, the more people get involved andmore will get done,” said resident Ray Ishee.

Janet Case Currie, a local business owner, mentioned the needfor the Wesson Chamber of Commerce to be involved in the project.They would know the needs of the area’s economy. Some of thebusinesses residents hope to bring to town include a grocery store,pharmacy and dry cleaners.

Resident Jeff Knight mentioned his involvement in another town’srenovation projects, and how important it was that everyone in thecommunity pull together for the betterment of Wesson.

“It’s all a concept of working together,” said Knight.

Tigner pointed out how vital the town could be to people workingin the Jackson area, which is around 35 miles away. He believesthat if Wesson was fixed up, it could become a bedroom communityfor Jackson.

Mayor David McGee and the four aldermen present at the meetingthought the idea of working with the Mississippi Main StreetAssociation was promising, and asked Tigner to invite theassociation’s executive director to the next meeting.

In other matters, the board accepted the retirement of WessonPolice Chief Steve Carlisle following an executive session anddecided to move Officer Jim Dykes to the position when Carlisleleaves.

The town board also hired an attorney, Kevin Camp, to fill theposition left open when Attorney Jeff Varas resigned lastmonth.

Camp has a law firm in Jackson and serves as one of the JudgeAdvocate General (JAG) officers in a division of the nationalguard.

“He’s wanting to get into city law, and this is a small townwhere he can learn,” said McGee.

The town also has a new dog catcher, following a decision madeby the board Tuesday. John Reynolds was hired after town residentsbegan to realize a need for someone to contain dogs in thearea.

“It’s mainly these strays. We’ve got a lot of them around town,”said McGee, adding that the town’s pound can house four dogs whileothers are sent to a local animal rescue league.

Board members also discussed the possibilities that would comefrom town law enforcement officers working more frequently withofficers at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. This would allowcitations and other enforcement matters from the campus to gothrough the town’s court, rather than in Hazlehurst.

A bid for the town’s new storage area for the water and streetdepartments was accepted last night and construction should beginsoon. The completion of the building will allow the construction ofthe Mill Town Park and Museum to get underway.

“I’m ready to get this thing built, so we can start on thepark,” said McGee.

The next board meeting will be held at 7 p.m., March 7 in thetown hall. Meetings are open to the public.