City upgrading utility truck fleet, fire stations

Light, gas and water manager Bill Mattox has been telling aldermen about the need for new boom bucket trucks for some time and now that need is being met.
He reported that to the city board during their regular meeting Tuesday.
First, he told them about a bid opening for a new bucket truck with 60-foot boom Monday. He said Altec was the only bidder, submitting a cost of $89,595 for the chassis and $126,682 for the boom. “That is in line and what we expected,” he said. Aldermen approved the purchase unanimously.
He also had a bid on a truck with a 40-foot boom for $106,298 from another utility. “This was a little cheaper than we expected,” Mattox said. This also was approved unanimously by aldermen.
Mattox added that the city’s new hybrid truck with a 65-foot boom should arrive in three or four months. He said the department’s boom truck fleet had been in need of replacement for a long time and, now, with the new purchases, “We will be in really good shape.”
Mattox brought up another matter that has needed attention: the city’s regulations for water and sewer lines. “The old subdivision regulations are not up to date (probably established in 1979) and we want to work with our engineer to create new standards,” Mattox said, so they will be in place the next time the city annexes or accepts a subdivision. The city engineering firm is ESI and Mattox said the cost should be less than $5,000 to create the new standards. The department has the money to pay that, he said. Aldermen approved the plan unanimously.
Finally, Mattox told aldermen the utility department had recently purchased a new brush chipper and wanted to sell one of the two older ones. Mattox said they want to keep one as back-up but don’t need three. Aldermen gave approval to advertise to sell the chipper.
In another equipment matter, Fire Chief Steve Coker brought up a capital improvement issue concerning Fire Station One. “We are having a lot of trouble with our roll-up doors,” he said. The doors have been repaired “a lot” over the years, he said, and their smooth reliable operation is necessary to trucks out of the station quickly for calls.
Coker said he had begun getting quotes on 14-foot-by-14-foot insulated doors, installed. “But there is not enough in the budget,” he said and the department would have to dip into fire protection funds.
The low quote was from Custom Glass in Tupelo with a cost of $8,551 for all five doors at the same time or $10,510 total if the doors were done separately over time. The other bidder was Mid-South Door in Olive Branch at a cost of $11,765 for all five doors. Aldermen approved the low bid from Custom Glass contingent on their meeting the necessary requirements.
Coker said replacing the doors would not only improve reliability for emergency response but also save a lot in utility costs due to the added insulation. The present doors are partly glass and have no insulation. He also asked about adding insulation to the doors at Station Two, which do not need replacement otherwise. The cost would be about $400 per door, he said.
Coker also said that lighting in Station One truck bays needs replacement. “They are the old-style fluorescents and only about half work,” Coker said. He wanted to disassemble the fixtures at both stations and replace them with newer lights but Alderman Anderson suggested he talk with a consultant who is wanting to bring an energy saving program to the city. Coker said he would, estimating the cost to upgrade the 19 fixtures would be less than $5,000, not requiring bids.
Coker also reported that training had been completed as required for the 2012 fire grant and his department is just waiting on the reimbursement process.
Alderman-at-Large Scott Dunnam brought up the issue of a need for a historic preservation committee for the city, and suggested the members of the present parking committee serve in that capacity. Kent agreed it is a fairly representative group whose members regularly show up and can be relied on. The issue was continued to the next meeting but aldermen seemed to agree that the five parking committee members, excluding the two aldermen members, would be good.
Parking committee members include Tommy Sappington, Gale Rutledge, Emily Foreman, Emily Manning, Kay Parsons and aldermen Jeff Olson and Scott Dunnam. Parsons has expressed a need to resign, Kent said, so a replacement will be nominated by Ward Three Alderman Kevin Dale White.
Union County Development Association Executive Director Phil Nanney told aldermen in his report that money for the Glenfield Road project, linking it to the Newport Furniture property, has been approved and the new road will lessen pressure on those living in the Rolling Hills Subdivision. The only road to the furniture plant from the east cuts through the subdivision now.
Nanney said trees are being moved to tie the Munsford Drive extension to Martintown Road. He said industrial prospects have said the only thing lacking in the Martintown park is making a loop; that will make it one of the most attractive sites in the South.
Nanney also told aldermen about an unusual auction to be held in the McGill building (the former Coca-Cola bottling works) this Saturday. A Ripley native who has been holding auctions in New York is thinking of returning  home but still having auctions once a year or more often if warranted. On sale will be a collection of 18th and 19th Century furniture and decorative arts with most items valued in the thousands of dollars. “This is a great opportunity for us,” he said. “New Albany could become a center for high-end antique sales…We are excited about having it.”
Building inspector and zoning administrator Mike Armstrong presented his monthly report and said the city’s planning and zoning commission, which usually meets on the first Monday of the month, had postponed its meeting to the last Monday in March due to conflicts among some of the interested parties.
He added that city engineers ESI had looked at the new street Virginia Way, which leads to Tractor Supply Store off Park Plaza Drive, and it does meet city specifications. Aldermen had agreed to accept the street from John and Terry Young at the previous meeting, assuming it did meet specifications.
Mayor Kent noted that city school board member Bobby Gault is retiring from that post after nearly 40 years, and it would be appropriate for the city to issue a proclamation honoring his service. Aldermen agreed and the city attorney was directed to draw up an appropriate proclamation.
In other business:
•    Police Chief Chris Robertson asked permission to open the process to hire a new patrol officer to replace P. J. Doyle, who has become the New Albany Elementary School Resource Officer. Mayor Tim Kent said no board action was needed for this and for Roberson to proceed.
•    Tourism and marketing director Sean Johnson reported that tourism tax collections from December were $50,911 and that retail sales were up 3.4 percent, more of an increase than almost all North Mississippi cities. He said planning is continuing for Tallahatchie RiverFest and that most of the bands for the three-day event are booked. He is still working on food, art, other needs and getting sponsors, he said. Johnson is continuing to use Facebook as a promotion tool and said two new billboards for the city are going up this week to replace older ones. The Down From the Hills music festival and bluegrass competition have been listed in the Legends state tourism magazine and he is promoting the upcoming home and garden show on Mississippi Public Radio. He said is planning to incorporate sports more in publicity and was to meet with the Hills Heritage Board next week. Johnson also said he had met with Three Rivers Planning and Development District concerning a problem on the Tanglefoot Trail right-of-way. The retaining wall on the east side of the trail from Bankhead to Main Street is in danger of collapse and the trail authority will repair it, he said.
•    Mayor Kent brought up a request from Chris Berry to have a car show at the BNA Bank Park later this year. Kent said he has done this several years and the city has not had any problems until last year, when complaints came in about the noise and vulgar song lyrics, all continuing late at night. Kent said Berry assured him he would take care of those problems, not holding the sound system contest and shutting the event down at 10:30. Aldermen had thought some sort of fee should be required for use of the park and Kent said he told Berry $500, which was acceptable to Berry.
•    Ward Two Alderman Anderson brought up the park and recreation department’s staff being two persons short for some time. He said he had talked with the acting director and they probably need at least one person hired. “They need somebody 75 percent of the time,” he said, because there are periods of heavy activity offset by slack periods during the year. This will be brought up at the next meeting.
Aldermen went into executive session to discuss a personnel matter and possible land acquisition.

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