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City may get funds for new station

A bill passed by state lawmakers could help Brookhaven replace an aging fire station on Willard Street.

“Over the weekend and into last night, Sen. Sally Doty and Reps. Becky Currie and Vince Mangold were able to include our request into the bond bill for $625,000, designated for a fire station,” Brookhaven Mayor Joe Cox told the Board of Aldermen Tuesday.

Fire Chief Tony Weeks, the mayor and the board have been pitching the city’s need to replace Fire Station 2 on Willard Street to different sources for the last two and a half years, Cox said.

“The big hurdle was passing (the bond bill) through the Legislature, and that has now been done,” Cox said. “It now has to be approved by the bond board, which is made up of the governor, the lieutenant governor, the treasurer and the attorney general, and then signed by the governor, so we don’t have a check yet, but it’s looking real good.”

If the bond bill is approved, the state will administer the funds for the new fire station in July when the new fiscal year begins.

“We just give our thanks again to Sen. Doty and Reps. Becky Currie and Vince Mangold,” Cox said. “This is just great.”

The bond bill passed by the House and Senate calls for the state to borrow $250 million this year and least $50 million in the future.  Mississippi Treasurer Lynn Fitch said some of the projects included in the bill are imprudent. Fitch said she’s worried about the state taking on too much debt.

In a letter this week, Fitch said she wants the three-member state Bond Commission, including herself, Gov. Phil Bryant and Attorney General Jim Hood, to scrutinize projects individually, The Associated Press reported. Fitch said some projects should be rejected.

“My staff and I went through this bill section-by-section and were shocked to see so many items included that could not meet even the basic standards for issuing bonds,” Fitch wrote.

She wrote that bonds must be for specific projects under IRS rules, and not just general allotments for infrastructure for cities and counties. About $1 million of the bond bill appears allocated for general infrastructure spending in specific areas.

Old hospital on N. Jackson Street

City building inspector David Fearn reported to the board Tuesday the status of the old hospital located on the corner of N. Jackson Street and W. Congress Street.

“An update on the old hospital — there’s not really anything that we, as the city, can do to either get it tested, to see whether or not it has asbestos, or anything else because we don’t own the property,” Fearn said. “It is still private property.”

“I talked with Mississippi DEQ yesterday, and they said that they don’t regulate lead paint if the building is demolished,” Fearn said. “If it’s rehabilitated — if they use the structure and then remodel it — they would regulate it. Asbestos has to be tested for, and we would have to do that through an asbestos abatement company. To take it down, it would cost somewhere in the $800,000 to $1 million range, because it has to be disposed of, if it’s got asbestos, in the proper facilities.”

Right now, Fearn said the city cannot do much about the building. Cox, Fearn and several other city officials plan to meet with old hospital’s property owner on Friday, Fearn said.