Aldermen approve local emergency declaration

The Brookhaven Board of Aldermen on Tuesday night accepted the mayor’s declaration of a local emergency from Friday morning’s storms, facilitating local cleanup efforts.

Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey reported 45 homes in the city and 10 in the county suffered damage.

“Thank you to all city workers,” he said. “I saw streets get cleared that I never imagined would get cleared that quick.”

Galey said it appears unlikely the storm damage will be qualified to be declared a state emergency and qualify for MEMA assistance. That would require $3.2 million of uninsured damage. Galey said although MEMA is not helping, Red Cross and private individuals are helping those who suffered greatly from the storm.

Galey said as far as the local proclamation of emergency is concerned, it expedites city employees’ continued removal of debris and damage from public properties. It does not provide for assistance on private property.

In reference to pushback about the tornado sirens not being used during the storm, Galey said he recommends continuing to only sound them during tornado warnings. He reasoned that the only warning he received Friday concerned the potential for strong winds from the National Weather Service.

“I get them two or three times a week this time of year,” he said.

Galey voiced concern that if they begin using the sirens more frequently, and Brookhaven does not get severe weather, people will become complacent. He recommended individuals get weather radios, which can be programmed for specific types of alerts.

Galey asked that anyone helping with storm damage contact him at his office, so that he can help assist in any way. He is also trying to compile a complete list of damage from the storm, so anyone who has not reported damage already should do so. Galey’s office number is 601-833-8561.

Public Works director Steve Moreton said his department is working to clean up all the debris from the storm.

“Be patient,” he said. “There’s a lot more debris than trailers.”

The board approved an emergency debris site and funding to have it chipped and hauled away at the request of Moreton. Moreton said only vegetative debris should be placed in the debris piles.

The board also thanked the Public Works Department for the prompt and continuous attention to cleanup efforts.

“It makes you proud to live here to see the workers get out there,” Fletcher Grice, Ward Five alderman, said.

Several other issues were brought before the board Tuesday from the public, including discussion of an expansion of a mobile home park, a beer license and construction downtown.

Gene Dubois asked for the board’s blessing in starting the process towards adding 16 more spots in Gene’s Mobile Home Park. He said he will still go through the normal process but wanted to make sure the board would even entertain the idea before investing the money into the preliminary stages.

“He runs a good trailer park,” David Phillips, Ward Six alderman, said in support of Dubois efforts. “It’s one of the premier parks.”

Dubois said the park requires the trailers moved in to be no older than four years and requires certain behavior from the residents.

“We tell them if they read the contract and don’t like it, we don’t want them,” he said.

The board referred the issue back to the planning committee to begin the preliminary stages.

Jessie Renfroe, owner of Benny’s Restaurant, asked the board to approve a special exemption to apply for a beer license. Benny’s sits in a residential zone, which requires the board to vote before Renfroe can apply for his beer license. The board approved the special exemption.

Mary Helen Miller, of Miller & White, presented building plans for a new building to be built on the lot at Whitworth and Monticello downtown. The plans include a parking lot that would need to remove four existing parking spots on Monticello for an entrance. The plans also call for a handicap spot that would remove two existing spots on Whitworth. The parking lot would provide for 13 spots, enough for Miller & White’s nine employees and the clients they serve.

The board voiced concerns about losing the street parking as well as traffic problems the parking lot could cause. They agreed the parking lot should be an entrance only from Monticello and only allow a right turn onto Whitworth.

“I say we bless it,” Terry Bates, Ward Two alderman, said. “It’ll look better than what we have now. And not worry about the parking spots.”

The board voted to approve the plans pending approval from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

The board also voted to approve an agility test for the last step in an application for the Brookhaven Fire Department. The test will cost $60 per person, and the city will absorb the cost. Tony Weeks, BFD chief, said the testing will increase likelihood of new hirees to pass through the Fire Academy.

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