Meridian Star

August 28, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — Mayor Barry on vetoes of council orders



    Last week I vetoed two city council orders — one that dealt with work on the South Industrial Park Protective Levee and another that dealt with a Transportation Enhancement Program (TEP) grant to be submitted to Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT).

    I want to be clear about why I vetoed those orders.

    The first veto was for Order No. 15270, which dealt with the city of Meridian hiring Kemp Associates, LLC to work on the South Industrial Park Protective Levee.

    The City of Meridian and Lauderdale County currently have an inter-local agreement with Engineering Plus regarding the South Industrial Park Protective Levee.

    This would have been a duplication of service and unwise use of taxpayer dollars.

    The second veto was for Order No. 15275, which dealt with Kemp Associates, LLC, writing and submitting a TEP grant to MDOT on behalf of the city of Meridian for a proposed project to get access for the disabled along two trails at Bonita Lakes.

    One reason for this veto is that grant writing for MDOT funds is within the scope of the city staff. I would never hire an outside source to write a grant for MDOT funds.

    The second reason is because the city is already exploring ways to make the lower trail at Bonita Lakes ADA accessible.

    The final reason for this veto is that this grant would have competed with a TEP grant already submitted to MDOT by my administration.

    Our TEP grant proposal would allow us to move forward with infrastructure repairs in our African-American Business District to the tune of $1.5 million for lighting, sidewalks and street work on 5th Avenue between 23rd and 26th streets.

    We can tie this grant with the recent $2.7 million grant from MDA Disaster Recovery for infrastructure repair around our MSU downtown campus.

    Combine those funds with the $4.5 million paving and drainage bond we recently passed and Meridian is on its way to significant infrastructure improvements over the next several months.

    That is one of the top priorities my administration, to repair and enhance as much infrastructure as possible.



Cheri M. Barry, Mayor



Response to column on coal plant



    This letter is in response to Bill Crawford’s recent column concerning the Kemper County Coal Plant.

    In it, he asserts, “The innovative technology used in the plant, now under construction in Kemper County, will turn Mississippi lignite coal into gas for power generation. Carbon emission sequestration and other innovations will make this abundant, cheap fuel source as ‘clean’ as natural gas.”

    Evidently, Mr. Crawford was not at the Public Service Commission meeting where Mr. Anderson, a Mississippi Power official, testified under oath that he didn’t know whether the new technology would even work. This was just before the commissioners rightly voted to deny a rate increase to pay for financing the company’s bloated scheme.

    Mr. Crawford wants to gloss over the fact that the plant is at least $454 million over budget, and he doesn’t even touch the fact that very few Mississippians or Mississippi companies are working on the building site.

    Like Mr. Crawford, some of us Labor folks thought this project would be an excellent opportunity for jobs, economic development and reliable, affordable energy for the customers of Mississippi Power.

    Unlike Mr. Crawford, however, we have paid attention to broken promises of stable employment, massive and unnecessary cost overruns, disregard for common workplace safety and unreasonable demands on the pocketbooks of ratepayers, among other problems prevalent in the project.

    There is a reason that bond ratings have dipped for Mississippi Power – the people who think worthy projects should produce good results don’t like what they’re seeing in Kemper County.

Neither do we.



David Newell, President of

Central Mississippi Building Trades



Thanks so much,

John Baxter!



    It was with great sadness that I recently read of the retirement of National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist John Baxter.

    As someone who has worked in public education in our community for going on 15 years, I cannot overstate Mr. Baxter’s contributions as an invaluable resource concerning potentially hazardous weather conditions.

    Mr. Baxter has always been accessible to agency heads at any hour of the day or night to provide expert information and recommendations concerning school closures. He has helped public agencies in heightening their level of preparedness and staying on the same page in coordinating closure activities.

    In short, Mr. Baxter has been the “go-to guy” for our community on weather issues. I was disappointed to read that the NWS would not be replacing him. Of course, Mr. Baxter as a person could not be replaced, but it would have been comforting from a community standpoint to at least have his position replaced.

    Thank you, John, for your many years of dedicated service to the East Mississippi/West Alabama region. Your contributions as a meteorologist were in keeping with your past service to our country as a highly decorated military veteran. In both capacities you served with distinction and honor, while also exhibiting uncommon humility. You made a difference, John, and you will be sorely missed.

    Sincerely,



Scott Elliott, president, Meridian Community College