By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times
New ward lines, a new chief of police … changes are afoot in the town of Mantachie.
First, the town’s ward lines may be changing in response to growth in the southern part of the town.
If passed, the proposed changes will more evenly divide the town’s 1,144 residents among its four wards. Residents of Ward 1 and Ward 2 will be most affected by the change: The former ward will lose around 128 residents; the latter will gain approximately 81.
Ward 3 and Ward 4 will gain 38 and nine residents, respectively.
These changes are still in the proposal stage. The town’s board of aldermen will host a special public forum on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 5:30 p.m. inside the town hall conference room to discuss the changes with town residents before finalizing a vote. Everyone is invited to attend.
Shifting ward lines are nothing new. As a township grows in both area and population, ward lines have to change to ensure balance among its population.
Although the town’s population numbers haven’t changed drastically in recent years, there is enough growth in certain areas to warrant a rejiggering of the ward lines.
“Our population hasn’t changed a lot, but it has changed,” said Mantachie Mayor Jeff Butler, speaking to the town’s board of aldermen during last week’s regular meeting.
Ideally, a town’s wards and the residents who live within them should be divided equally among its aldermen. In Mantachie’s case, each of the town’s four aldermen should represent around 286 people, give or take a few. But a surge of growth along Highway 363 has resulted in a bottom-heavy town. Currently, Ward 1 has approximately 412 residents, a 44 percent deviation from the ideal. At the opposite side of the spectrum, Ward 2 has only 198 residents — a 31 percent variation from the ideal.
Those residents who may find themselves in new wards will also have new aldermen representing them. Mantachie’s Board of Aldermen is broken down as follows:
• Ward 1: Mike Horton
• Ward 2: Matt Fennell
• Ward 3: Wayne Guin
• Ward 4: Tim Jones
• Alderman-at-Large: Timmy “Red” Spradlin.
Maps of the proposed changes to the town’s ward lines are available at Mantachie Town Hall.
In addition to new ward lines, Mantachie’s police department has a new chief.
Part-time officer Brad Rogers was named the town’s new interim chief of police following an executive session among the town’s aldermen. The vote to move Rogers into the position was unanimous.
Rogers, who has worked for the Mantachie Police Department as a part-time officer since 2009, replaces Chief Richard Erickson, who resigned from the position in late October due to personal issues.
Rogers — who also works for the Fulton Police Department — will remain in a part-time capacity. The town’s police department also has two full-time officers.