Busy first meeting for Wesson officials

Published 5:00 am Thursday, July 5, 2001

WESSON — When the new mayor and board took over town mattersTuesday night they went straight to work, discussing a variety oftopics they would like to address during their administration.

One major topic of discussion was the upkeep of the Old WessonSchool.

During open discussion, new Mayor Bill Tigner talked with townofficials and residents about having the area cleaned up as a firststep to the building’s renovation.

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In addition to Tigner, John Welter Jr. was sworn in as Ward 2alderman, replacing Jim Lightsey, who did not seek re-election.Returning town officials sworn in before Tuesday’s meeting wereDavid Douglas, alderman-at-large; Robert Derrick, Ward 1 alderman;Lura Greer, Ward 3 alderwoman and Hollis Cowen Jr., Ward 4alderman.

An idea Tigner hoped to pursue is having a clean-up day to pickup the trash that has been left in the school and on the propertyby trespassers over the years.

“I think you would be amazed at what we could do,” Tigner toldthe group of about 20 gathered for the monthly meeting.

Tigner also hoped to have the property secured to preventfurther vandalism, such as the bon fires and parties that have beenreported lately on the property.

Past prevention efforts, including nailing windows shut to keepvandals out, have proven to be unsuccessful.

“They’ve even kicked in the bricks to get into the basement,”said Wesson Police Chief Jim Dykes.

Dykes and other officers have attempted to catch the peoplebreaking into the building, but those efforts have been to noavail.

“Our police department does patrol our town good, and I wouldlike to commend them,” said resident Flonnie Turnbo, adding that alack of patrol was not to blame for the repeated trespassingincidents.

Derrick suggested that the vandalism was the results of localteenagers sneaking into the building late at night. Several boardmembers and town residents echoed his suggestion.

The group of residents and officials agreed to have the windowsboarded up and put up “no trespassing” signs, showing that therewill be a $500 fine for those caught on the premises withoutpermission.

Town resident Harold Ables suggested getting town residentsinvolved in other clean-up and improvement projects by havingseveral town-wide work days during the year.

It was pointed out that the town does have a clean-up day everyspring, and it has been very successful.

“I’ve seen a lot of money go by the way side because the townhas had to pay for things people could have done,” said Ables,mentioning $250 the town had to pay last month for an emergencytree removal from Patterson Street.

Board members were receptive to his idea and decided to lookinto having town work days more often.

Another idea for improving the town regarded the plannedrenovation of the Wesson Fire Department.

The board gave permission for the town to advertise for bids onthe project that will allow the addition of 15 feet to both sidesof the building. The added space would allow the fire station tohave three bays and a training area.

Other emergency service matters discussed during the meetingincluded an update on the status of the police department, whichlost one full-time and one part-time officer last month.

Dykes told board members he had hired Lance Falvey, aninvestigator with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, to workfour shifts a week, with the exception of one week each month whenhe could only work three shifts.

“I’m very confident in his ability to continue in that aspect,”said Dykes, explaining that Falvey filled the personnel need fornow.

Cowen pointed out that the town’s COPS grant was about to runout. It has been used to pay for the salaries of two full-timeofficers and the town had committed to keeping two full-timeofficers for two years after the grant ran out.

“We need to be looking at sources of revenue to come up withthis money to help the police department out,” said Cowen.

Another personnel matter was the board’s decision to no longerhave a full-time dog catcher. Most of the stray dogs around townhave been picked up and either bought back by their owners oreuthanized.

The town hopes to secure the services of someone to catch straydogs only on an as-needed basis.

An overwhelming amount of bothersome mosquitoes in the area wasalso in issue for discussion during the hour-long meeting.

“I wonder when you can spray again for the mosquitoes. It’sgetting kind of bad,” said resident Myrtle Hamilton.

Municipal Clerk Linda Dykes reported that the machine had beenbroken for some time because parts were hard to find for such anolder model. It was finally repaired by a town resident and shouldbe seen on the streets in a matter of days.

The next scheduled town board meeting will be at 7 p.m., Aug. 7,at town hall.