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Town of Wesson clashes with public library

The Wesson Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to send a letter to the Copiah-Jefferson Regional Library Board of Trustees following a disagreement over who can use the building after hours.

“We have had a situation arise that was very frustrating,” Wesson Mayor Alton Shaw said.

According to Shaw, the Friends of the Library were informed they could not hold an event in the library building because of fears that computer equipment could get damaged.

“Basically what it says in (the letter) is that we are not about to spend $300,000 in renovations without full understanding that we can use the building whenever we want outside of library hours for any kind of event,” Shaw said.

Shaw said the town could not locate the current contract with the library association, but the town pays them a monthly fee to staff and outfit the library. Shaw said in the meeting that he is open to renegotiating the contract with the library association, if necessary, to clarify that whoever is using the building at the time is responsible for any damages.

“I don’t have a problem with that,” Shaw said. “But they’re not going to state we have no right to use a building we own. Friends of the Library does the majority of the work fundraising, so I find it kind of offensive that they’re going to sit there and nitpick things like that.”

Public hearing

The town held a public hearing recently regarding two properties identified as the Steinwinder Property at 1055 W. Railroad St. and the Mayfield property at 1015 Ninth St. The owner of the Steinwinder property failed to appear at the hearing, and Shaw told the board the owner of the Mayfield property contacted him prior to the hearing. Shaw said the owner did not know that he owned the building, and gave the city the OK to clean it up.

The board voted to declare the two properties a public safety and health hazard so they can clean the properties under state law.

Police

The board voted to make Wesson Police Department officer Ronnie Boysel a dedicated code enforcement officer for the town.

“The need for this is in our public maintenance code,” Shaw said. “It deals with having a dedicated individual who would be the designated code enforcement officer. This will be the person that goes out and cites the individuals. That would be the person that responds in court to state what the violation was, should it come to that point.”

Ward 4 Alderman Mike King suggested in the meeting increasing Boysel’s pay following the meeting.

“Before we make a motion, I think we need to possibly consider maybe a little increase in hourly pay if he’s going to take this on,” King said. “I know in the past, (Public Works Director) Brad (Turner) was trying to do it. I know (Wesson Police Chief) Chad (O’Quinn) was trying to do it. If we’re going to do this, maybe we should give some incentive in sticking with it so we don’t have this constant rotation of folks trying to do this job.”

On O’Quinn’s recommendation, the board voted to increase Boysel’s pay from $12.50 an hour to $13.

O’Quinn also made the recommendation to send Jeremy Tolle and Kelsey Evans to the police academy, and the board went into executive session to discuss the recommendation behind closed doors. When the board returned, they voted to approve the recommendation. Tolle will be a full-time police officer, and Evans will be part-time.