By STEVEN NALLEY
At the board of aldermen meeting this week, citizens raised objections during a public hearing on proposed amendments to a city sanitation ordinance pertaining to solid waste.
The ordinance as amended would, among other things, redefine various terms in the ordinance, increase the size of limbs the city will pick up and enable the city to pick up tires. When the hearing was opened to public comment, two citizens raised issues with language both in the current ordinance and the amendments to it.
Milo Burnham said the ordinance as a whole was confusing, and he questioned whether the general public would be able to understand it. He said his primary concern is the fact that the amended ordinance still completely excludes “Dead animals, animal dressings or animal manure” from materials the city will pick up.
“It would seem to me that if you can get it in a black plastic bag, it’s gone, and the city will pick it up,” Burnham said. “As I read this, though, it says that I’m in violation if I put a dead mouse in a plastic bag, and I don’t know who would enforce that. What do you do with the droppings that you pick up from your dog in a plastic bag. Do you take them home and bury them or do you put them in the garbage?”
Another citizen, Alvin Turner, said he questioned the need for so many changes to the ordinance, changes that might make citizens angry. He said his main issue is the absence of language warning citizens about materials they might not know are explosive, presenting a danger to garbage truck drivers.
“Now we pay good money for those trucks, but we may have some people that may put the wrong things in there,” Turner said. “We could allow someone to get hurt by not knowing that something is explosive in a garbage bag or whatever. I don’t know how much those trucks cost, but we cannot take a risk.”
City attorney Chris Latimer said the revisions up for discussion were not originally intended to address all of the ordinance’s potential problems.
“The issue you run into is, when you start tinkering with some of the stuff, it triggers, perhaps, the need to tinker with it all,” Latimer said. “So the call might be to either clean it up to just say “Sanitation Division” where it used to say “Sanitation Department” and leave the rest alone, or have a wholesale word-by-word revision of this ordinance, which is going to be a longer process than one more board meeting, and make sure we’re doing it right.”
The board also heard Cheikh Taylor, deputy executive officer for the Brickfire Project, give a presentation on a new, state-of-the-art child care facility funded by up to $3.6 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Taylor said the project would provide quality child care for an additional 120 children and create 12 permanent jobs. He said his current estimate for the project’s cost was at $3.2 million, and 95 percent of the cost would be funded by the grant.
“There is a five percent leveraging that’s mandatory to be able to get this money,” Taylor said. “In that, we’re asking from other partners Child Fund International, who is the primary contributor for the Brickfire Project, about $20,000; Starkville Housing Authority, about $60,000; Oktibbeha County, about $15,000; and then the city of Starkville, $80,000.”
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver asked a question after the presentation that initially drew laughs from the audience and the board.
“I support our match,” Carver said. “Honestly, if we were matching five percent, I would probably support that, but is there any reason why the county doesn’t have more percentage than us?”
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins then said Oktibbeha County’s contribution should match that of the city.
Taylor said Brickfire has not yet talked to the county about their share of the funding, and the $15,000 figure in his presentation was an arbitrary estimation. Perkins said he wanted Taylor to discuss the county’s share with the county board of supervisors by the aldermen’s July 19 meeting and report to him what the supervisors agreed to.
“They need to be asked for more,” Perkins said. “They need to be paying more than $15,000 versus asking us for $80,000. Hold them accountable. No disrespect to you, but I want to be very firm in my appeal to you.”
Early in the meeting, Mayor Parker Wiseman took a moment for what he called a “victory lap,” commenting on Blue Cross Blue Shield naming Starkville Mississippi’s Healthiest Hometown at the Mississippi Municipal League Conference in Biloxi June 30. Wiseman said he was grateful to the Healthy Hometown Committee’s work to improve the community’s health and to Ward 7 Alderman Henry N. Vaughn for representing the board to that committee.
“For the last two years, we’ve put together an application, and we were very disappointed last year when we were not selected as one of the Healthy Hometowns in the state of Mississippi, in spite of the fact that we thought we had an excellent application,” Wiseman said. “Well, we went to the conference this year, and we were awarded the overall award of the healthiest hometown in the state of Mississippi, with an overall grand prize of $50,000 to continue to improve the public health of this community.”
The board also:
u Heard a presentation from City Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill on the redistricting process and Starkville city data from the 2010 census.
u Approved Christopher Carlisle’s request to allow him to establish a tattoo and body piercing parlor near the former location of Zazzle’s on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
u Approved an inter-local agreement to use Clay County jail facilities for Starkville prisoners.
u Transferred Robert Barnes to the position of equipment operator for the landfill division and made three other hires within the Sanitation and Environmental Services Department.
u Approved advertisement for vacant positions in the Starkville Police Department, the drinking water division of Public Services and the Building, Codes, and Planning Department.
u Welcomed new employees Chanteau Wilson, the board’s new administrative assistant, and Mark Clay, the new laboratory technician for the wastewater division of Public Services.
u Named Carol Joy Employee of the Month for July 2011.