Officials ‘on same page’ in crime fight, mayor says

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mayor Les Bumgarner signaled a unified front by officials inconfronting Brookhaven’s crime-related issues and heralded a numberof other city developments Wednesday.

“I think everybody’s on the same page,” Bumgarner said during anaddress before the Brookhaven Kiwanis Club. “Crime is a concern foranybody.”

The mayor touched briefly on the previous night’s board ofaldermen meeting discussion of city crime concerns. He also toutedan immediate ban on synthetic marijuana that was approved duringthe meeting.

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“It’s a problem that’s increasing,” Bumgarner said.

Bumgarner offered a short overview of the process when someoneis arrested.

The mayor said city court is primarily set up to handle finecollections and the city court judge may not dismiss a case. Hesaid a higher court will also take a look at a case.

“If there’s no action (in city court) does not mean there’s notgoing to be action,” Bumgarner said.

In other city activities, Bumgarner pointed out that Brookhavenhad surpassed McComb and Natchez in sales tax collections three ofthe first eight months of the year.

“There’s a lot to be said for that …,” said Bumgarner,crediting local businesses for the success in that area. “I want usto be the city in Southwest Mississippi.”

Among development projects, the mayor said Rex Lumber istargeting a Jan. 15, 2011 opening and the city is pursuing a $1million grant for roadwork at the former Columbus Lumber site.Also, the city’s long-sought Multi-Modal Facility should be openwithin 60 days and officials are looking to use participants inCo-Lin’s senior citizen program as staff.

“I think we can staff it without any cost to the city,”Bumgarner said.

Bumgarner said the city’s downtown sign and lighting project iscoming along. And depending on funding, he was considering benchesand a gazebo for the Railroad Park area.

Finally, the mayor said he is continuing to work on a litter,health and safety ordinance to encourage faster cleanup ofabandoned and overgrown lots around town. He indicated the currentprocess, which involves notifications and hearings, is lengthy.

“In all seriousness, it takes four to five months to getsomebody to cut their grass,” Bumgarner said.

Bumgarner said he wants to use court proceedings and fines tospeed up the work. He was hopeful the process could see problemareas addressed in as little as two weeks.