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Aldermen air concerns on storm debris cleanup

While some Brookhaven residents are still concerned aboutrubbish pickup after Hurricane Gustav’s visit to the area two weeksago, city officials assured them at Tuesday’s meeting that cleanuphas been tireless and that it is ongoing.

Alderman at-large Les Bumgarner said citizens had voicedconcerns that their rubbish piles had still not been picked up.Mayor Bob Massengill told the board that the efforts are ongoing,saying city crews have already picked up 167 loads of rubbish inthe last two weeks.

“That’s a very large number,” he said. “And we’re aware thatthere are still places that need it terribly.”

Bumgarner said one of his concerns is that some of the pileshave been drying out, and Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes saidshe had seen where some people had been throwing other kinds oftrash on the piles.

Massengill said some street department workers had been borrowedto help the solid waste crews throughout the cleanup effort. Headded he would speak with street department officials Wednesday totry to enlist their help again before this weekend’s Ole BrookFestival.

Meanwhile, Mike McKenzie of Williford Gearhart & Knightbriefed the board on three projects going on within the city. Hesaid bids on the sewer project had all been overbudget, but somenumber crunching had helped save the project.

The bid was awarded to Greenbriar in pieces, with a revision tothe replacement of part of the line on Natchez Avenue. Simplyreworking the lift station in that area will save the city $71,000,bringing the overall cost of the project to almost $2.3 milliondollars.

A hazard mitigation grant through FEMA looks hopeful, McKenziesaid, and will help with drainage problems primarily in Ward Three.FEMA officials were in Brookhaven on Tuesday to survey thedamage.

“It looks like there’s a good chance of getting that funded,” hetold the board.

Finally, McKenzie said the drainage ditch at the Halbert Heightsbridge project, which is being funded in large part by a CommunityDevelopment Block Grant and a separate natural resources grantthrough the National Resource Conservation Service, will take someaccounting work, but that the project should eventually goaccording to plan.

“It should work out to where we finish everything up fromHalbert Heights to Brookway Boulevard,” he said.

The board also discussed the yearly water bill charge-offs,saying the $12,987 was higher than last year’s number, which wasunavailable. Massengill told the board that one client alone causeda $3,500 charge-off, which substantially raised the amount.

Under the new deposit structure which goes into effect Oct. 1,however, the mayor told the board that the city would have savedquite a bit on charge-offs.

“If we had had that new deposit structure in place, we’d becharging off more than $5,000 less,” he said.

City Clerk Mike Jinks said the city does not actually write offthat debt, but that accounts that are delinquent to a certain pointare taken out of the active accounts and transferred to a separateaccount for outstanding debts.

“If we can find some way to collect them from there, we do,” hesaid.

Following an executive session for personnel matters, aldermenvoted to promote Lt. Andrew Graham to captain in the BrookhavenFire Department. In another fire department-related matter,retiring shift Capt. Marty Beeson was recognized for 30 years ofservice to the department.

The meeting was recessed until Sept. 22 at 6:30 p.m. for theboard to meet with representatives from Insurance and RiskManagement to discuss city property insurance.