By Rex Wilgus/Monroe Journal
ABERDEEN — The topics ranged from questions about streets, sidewalks and trash pickup to hints about potential new additions at the town hall meeting in Aberdeen on Thursday, July 12, 2012.
“If we can get the people to speak to one another and love one another, we can move forward. We have a lot of negatives surrounding us just like all cities do, but we’re going to focus on the positives to move forward,” said Mayor Cecil Belle.
According to statistics Belle mentioned, some 12,000 to 15,000 cars pass through Aberdeen every day, but attracting them from the bypass into town is a challenge.
“Since I moved here, I’ve heard about this from people. I’m suggesting a digital sign on the four-lane promoting the events we have so that more people know what we have going on,” said Marty Hansen.
The presence of a public pool was proposed, but liability issues are the biggest hurdle. Acker Park is currently in Phase I of an overhaul and a splash park may be a feasible addition for the project.
Belle touched on discussions he’s had with potential business and industry including a solar panel company, a four-star hotel/restaurant, truck stop and an O’Reilly’s distribution center, but none of these projects are finalized.
“I don’t mind calling people to ask them to consider locating here. We have the workforce and the resources here for them. Once we start something, hopefully we can start a domino effect,” Belle said.
In addition to a few policies the board of aldermen has already approved, Belle asked citizens for input on other changes they’d like to see in town. Since taking office, the mayor’s office has taken 181 complaints from the public and a large percentage have already been resolved through the city’s different departments.
“As taxpayers, it’s your money and we should be held accountable for the quality of the city’s services,” Belle said.
The mayor explained the opportunities for citizens to become more involved in the town, such as Acker Park’s renovation and task forces and advisory boards for such local entities as the animal shelter and housing authority.
Public suggestions included a bank being open on Saturdays and better pedestrian access to Blue Bluff and information items such as the presence of Mission Mississippi and the need of support for the Aberdeen School District.
“I don’t live here, but I do spend 10 hours a day here. We’ve got some big positive changes coming to our school and we need your support. These are your neighbors’ kids and we just need you to ask them how they did in school that day. You’ve got to show them you care because they don’t think anybody else does. These kids are the next mayor, the next building inspector, the next chief of police and may even the next president,” said Elisabeth Oliver, sixth-grade teacher at Shivers Middle School.
The Aberdeen Zoning Board will be hosting representatives July 23 to review necessary means to update the city’s comprehensive study of 1979 at 6 p.m. in the board room at City Hall.