Officials deliver Smithville’s State of the Town address

SMITHVILLE – In his opening sentence of Smithville’s State of the Town address, Mayor Gregg Kennedy stated how humbled he is to say that the town is alive and well.

RAY VAN DUSEN/MONROE JOURNAL TOWN ADDRESS – Mayor Gregg Kennedy delivers the State of the Town address Tuesday, Feb. 19 at Smithville Freewill Baptist Church.

RAY VAN DUSEN/MONROE JOURNAL
TOWN ADDRESS – Mayor Gregg Kennedy delivers the State of the Town address Tuesday, Feb. 19 at Smithville Freewill Baptist Church.

“I hear the comments from people that there’s not a lot getting done. Hackleburg still doesn’t even know if they’ll be able to play football even next year,” Kennedy said.
Whereas Smithville’s school is quickly showing progress with the completion of a majority of its buildings, Hackleburg just broke ground two weeks ago on its new school.
“It speaks well of Smithville for getting back so fast. People ask why we haven’t started to move students into the new buildings yet and that’s because we want the students to gather together instead of being separated,” said Smithville assistant principal Bubba Tacker.
Tacker said that most of the reconstruction of the school’s campus is complete. The elementary building is seven weeks ahead of schedule with a completion date of June 1. The gym’s walls are being put up first and then the interior work will be done. The anticipated completion date is in early August. The new gym, which will be 5,000 square feet larger than the original, will double as a tornado shelter.
In water and sewer improvements, Smithville has secured $851,299 from insurance claims, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The town has also received an Appalachian Region Commission grant along with Community Development Block Grants for water system improvements.
“In the process of replacing lines, we’re keeping fire safety in mind. All the money coming in ensures that nothing is indebted to the town,” said Smithville’s engineer Randy Hollis, of Owen & White, Inc.
Century Construction presented the low bid of $1,936,600 for the 12,000 square foot Access Family Health Services building, which will begin construction in late April.
“I’m proud of the design. I want our clinics to be modern and our patients to know they can get the best health care they can,” said Access executive director Marilyn Summerford.
Access has already secured a $1.6 million Capital Development/Building Capacity Grant for the new facility, which will have nine exam rooms, in-house X-ray capabilities and space for an in-house pharmacy. Summerford projects a March 2014 completion date for the clinic and is hopeful of an April 27, 2014 grand opening.
Kennedy’s address detailed Smithville’s increases in sales tax and ad valorem taxes and anticipated increase in property taxes.
The town currently has 39 open project worksheets with FEMA.
“The sewer lagoon and NOE complex are the only projects settled with insurance so far. We’re still battling with insurance and we’re going to keep battling. They want you to close the books, but I’ll argue until we get the last dime,” Kennedy said.
Smithville recently adopted a comprehensive plan outlining growth to 2030. The town is also in the process of completing grants for landscaping around the upcoming city government complex, sewer rehabilitation, a memorial park and a bicycle/walking track around the Noe Sports Complex.
Architectural drawings for the new government complex are 85 percent complete. Kennedy strives to continue this project debt-free, like so many other rebuilding projects.
“The reason we’re here is to build for the future. I probably won’t live to see the town’s full potential, but have had children who will,” Kennedy said.

About Ray Van Dusen

I've been with the Monroe Journal since Aug. 2009 as a staff writer, but took the role as news editor in late 2012. I'm always looking for interesting story ideas from around Monroe County. You can reach me via email at ray.vandusen@journalinc.com.