Okolona aldermen hear complaints on police, electric departments

By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal

OKOLONA – Aldermen listened as members of the community stepped to the microphone last week and voiced their concerns with the Okolona Police Department and Okolona Electric Department.

Three residents approached the Okolona Board of Aldermen citing their concerns with electric bills and customer service by the city. A resident also voiced her concern after she was arrested by police. The board also went into executive session to discuss a possible lawsuit against the city for excessive use of force by the police department.

Nikkie Talley said she was checking her mailbox when she was approached by police saying she was illegally parked. Talley, who presented only one side of the story, said incident spiraled out of control and resulted in her being handcuffed and carried to jail.

“I was checking the mailbox at the street in my car and, like I have always done, I pulled across the road headed the wrong way to check the box,” said Talley. “I had a police officer approach me and tell me I was driving the wrong way.”

Talley said she told the officer she would check her mail and soon be out of the way.

“They said I was getting smart and they would lock me up,” said Talley. “That’s exactly what they ended up doing. The put me in handcuffs in front of my children and carried me to jail.”

Aldermen said they would discuss the matter in executive session along with another police department issue.

The City of Okolona recently received a legal claim against its insurance company after Anthony Johnson was tasered by Okolona police in early December.

Following a 20-minute executive session, City Board Attorney Gene Barton said Johnson was seeking $50,000 in damages and was being represented by attorney Jim Waide in the matter.

Barton said the board was advised of the incident and no action was taken on the claim by Johnson.

No public action was taken in the situation involving Talley, following executive session.

The board was also approached by three residents who complained of high electric bills.

All three residents said fall and winter electric bills have been over $500 and they don’t understand why they are so high.

Howard Seals said he asked an Okolona meter reader what the problem was and was told “You are the problem. You need to pay your bill.”

Alderman Eldridge Lowe asked if Seals got the name of the employee who said that and Seals said he did not.

Lowe said residents have a right to have their meter double checked and should pay their bill, but city employees do not have the right to be rude or confrontational with electric customers.

Mayor Louise Floyd Cole asked the trio to get in touch with the city electric department to double check the meter and determine what might be done.

Okolona residents saw their water bills adjusted in the fall of 2011 when a random audit of water bills showed out of 60 meters 45 had not been billed properly.

The city got into hot water when residents began getting exorbitant bills with one resident getting an water bill of over $900. An average water bill in Okolona runs about $35 a month.

After more than a month of work and a town hall meeting the city agreed to average bills, add the one time charge and move on.

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