Smithville mayor anticipates a busy year in 2013

SMITHVILLE – For Smithville Mayor Gregg Kennedy, 2013 looks like it will be a full year as the town has several projects that will either be completed this year or started with a 2014 completion date.
“Our number one focus is the completion of the schools and getting our kids back on regular campus beginning August 2013. We need to ensure the infrastructure meets the needs of the new school,” Kennedy said.
The Town of Smithville received a Community Development Block Grant to upgrade the sewer in the eastern part of town, which includes the school. Suncoast Infrastructure of Florence should begin work on this project around Feb. 1.
“We also received an Appalachian Regional Committee grant, which will work together with the sewer project. Actually, the sewer from the school will go directly into the lagoon. This will do away with the gravity flow system,” Kennedy said.
He said another priority for Smithville this year is working with the infrastructure to assist Access Family Medical on its new building.
Kennedy said advertisements will go out the middle of January on infrastructure improvements for the new city hall, with groundbreaking set for early spring.
Smithville is still waiting for reimbursements from Federal Emergency Management Agency and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency on lagoon cleanup after the tornado and also the Noe Little League Ballfield.
“We had to pay for the Noe Little League Ballfield before we can be reimbursed. We just took a leap of faith to get some normalcy back in our town by building the ballfield,” Kennedy said.
Smithville is set to receive more than $581,000 from state and federal funds.  That has been one of the delays in starting the new city hall.
“We wanted to make sure the building we build we could pay for. It is a long process and will take one to one-and-a-half years to get back in the new city hall,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said the city will enter a public/private partnership to build city hall and then receive the full reimbursement in order to get back in the city hall.
One small hurdle at the end of January will be when Kennedy goes to Jackson to walk through a private bill relating to the current board of alderman which can’t obligate a new board to indebtedness.
Kennedy said Sen. Hob Bryan and Rep. Donnie Bell are working on this bill for Smithville.
Kennedy said they want to develop a retail business incubator and business district. The town is trying to find the property suitable for this project.
He said the town compiled a list of people who attended the Small Business Administration workshop who want to lease a business with a buyout clause, rather than commit to ownership.
Kennedy said several were interested in that and he hopes that during the spring and summer they could get the property.
He also stated the town has to work with the facility where the school is temporarily housed. Once the school is moved into its new facilities, the temporary facility will either have to be taken down or developed into something else.
Kennedy said he had already been contacted by two small businesses who were interested in possibly locating there. He said they thought it would make a good location for several small businesses to locate in that area. The site already has plumbing and electricity.
“The governor’s office is working on trying to get a grocery store for us. I know they have talked to someone and there are details that need to be worked out,” Kennedy said.
He said some of the projects will carry over into 2014.
“I was told in the beginning that it takes seven to 12 years for recovery from a disaster like we had. I now see that is true. Recovery does not happen overnight,” Kennedy said.

ALICE ORTIZ/MONROE JOURNALSMITHVILLE MAYOR – Smithville Mayor Gregg Kennedy looks over the plans for the new town hall.

ALICE ORTIZ/MONROE JOURNAL
SMITHVILLE MAYOR – Smithville Mayor Gregg Kennedy looks over the plans for the new town hall.