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McGee drops out of Wesson race; two still on ballot

WESSON — Incumbent David McGee has dropped out of the mayor’srace, leaving two political newcomers vying for the job.

McGee’s decision was announced Wednesday by Town Clerk LindaDykes at a chamber of commerce forum for the candidates. McGee hasserved as mayor for five years.

Left on the ballot for Tuesday’s election are Alton Shaw andBill Tigner.

McGee, who was vacationing in Florida, had asked Dykes to informthe town of the decision.

Dykes told the chamber audience that the decision to drop outwas not an easy one for McGee.

“For the past two years, David has struggled with the decisionon whether to run for mayor this time,” said Dykes. “After muchprayerful thought, David has decided not to run.”

Chamber members did not show surprise as the rumor has beenmilling around the town for several months. They turned theirattention to hearing the views of the two remaining candidates.

Shaw, a paramedic and volunteer firefighter, spoke first to thecrowd of about 40, concentrating on his plans to help improve thetown.

He mentioned the need to bring more businesses, such as agrocery story and drug store, to Wesson.

While those type businesses have not been able to financiallysurvive in the past, Shaw said he believes they can if moreresidents are attracted to the area.

He also said the town should actively pursue grants forimprovement projects, such as hiring an extra drug enforcementofficer.

Shaw said that the drug problem in the area is on the rise.

“If we let this continue to grow and let this get into theschool, it could ruin the education system we have,” said Shaw.

Shaw said he believes the Wesson police officers have done whatthey can to stop the flow of drugs, but another officer could behired through grant money to concentrate more on the activity atWesson Attendance Center.

“We’re never going to be able to get rid of them (drugs), but wecan do something to control it,” he said.

Shaw also wants to implement more programs involving children incommunity service projects. He mentioned how children have beenserving as junior firefighters, and he said a program with childrenas junior police officers would help the communication effortsbetween officers and students.

The town was moving forward and improving greatly with plenty ofgood programs already in place, he said, but he wants the residentsto work together as a whole.

“If we could get everybody focused together, there’s a world ofgood we could do,” said Shaw.

He also mentioned the need to unite Wesson and Copiah-LincolnCommunity College, because the two entities often disagree andengage in unnecessary bickering about what direction to go.

“I feel like it could be like a good marriage and goside-by-side because the road’s big enough for both of us,” saidShaw.

Tigner, who moved to the area a little over two years ago,wanted the group to know a little more about him.

He told chamber members about his childhood at Fort Bragg, N.C.,where his father was an Army officer. Tigner, a United States AirForce veteran, received a bachelor of arts degree in politicalscience from North Carolina State University.

He serves as the vice president and general manager of SvedalaIndustries, the world’s largest supplier of automobile shreddersand heavy equipment for steel and scrap recycling.

His wife of 12 years, Carla, stays busy co-hosting “Listen tothe Eagle” radio and television programs with her father, Paul OttCarruth.

Tigner said he and his wife have fallen in love with the Wessonarea and want to improve it in any way possible.

Tigner said he has noticed how Wesson has seen more trafficbecause of industry expanding from Jackson, which is approximately40 miles away, and the addition of the Mississippi School of theArts in Brookhaven.

“There’s a lot of opportunities, and I believe we’re going tosee a lot of growth from that,” said Tigner, complimenting how wellthe current administration has done in preparing the town forgrowth.

One idea that tops his list of priorities is establishing anon-profit organization for the town to use in parallel withcommunity services and projects.

“It makes it tax-deductible for corporations and individuals togive to those projects,” said Tigner.

He has researched the idea for several months and found that itwould allow the town to be eligible for more grants and fundingfrom public and private sources that are currently not available tomunicipalities.

Tigner pointed out that a lot of enthusiasm is already present,so implementing programs to improve the town would be easy.

His plans as mayor include preserving the old Wesson School byturning it into a “much-needed community center.”

“I believe using the school for a community center will be atremendous asset to our town,” said Tigner.

He also talked of the need to bring a grocery store to the area.Tigner said he had contacted six major retailers about whatdemographics were needed to attract a grocery store to Wesson.

“I can tell you that there are a lot smaller towns than Wessonwho have a (grocery store),” said Tigner.

He closed the speech by letting the people know he would workhard to help the town keep a high quality of life and maintain asmall town atmosphere, while providing the highest level of lawenforcement and fire protection.

Tigner and Shaw, who are neighbors, shook hands and talked for afew moments before greeting chamber members.

They agreed that the race was a friendly competition and bothwere basically going in the same direction.