Meridian Star

July 11, 2013

Marion board approves department heads

By Terri Ferguson Smith /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Reappointment of department heads for the town of Marion went through without a hitch Tuesday evening when the new board and mayor had their first meeting since the election of three new aldermen.

    Returning aldermen are Barbara Anthony and Bernice Martin; new to the board are Ben Langston, Larry Donald Thrash and Lisa Lindley.

    Elvis Hudson is now entering his third term as mayor of Marion.

    The board unanimously approved all of Hudson's recommendations for reappointments. They are: Ronnie Posey, building and zoning inspector; Scott Stokes, fire chief, Douglas Engell, municipal judge; and Andrew Bateman, water operator.

    Hudson asked that other appointments be postponed for the time being. Carolyn Davis will remain as town clerk; Assistant Police Chief Randall Davis will remain as interim chief; Chris Falgout will remain as town attorney until Hudson brings the matter back to the board.

The board elected Thrash as mayor pro tempore. Thrash would carry out the duties of the mayor in case of Hudson's absence.

    The board also agreed, at the request of Hudson, to pay $500 for liability insurance for county volunteer firefighters who respond to fires inside the town of Marion. This will be for the remainder of the fiscal year. Hudson said it had recently been brought to his attention that the town had not paid for the insurance this year. When volunteers respond to fires in other parts of the county, they are covered by the county's insurance. Hudson said he plans to budget for the insurance the next fiscal year.

    The town of Marion does not have a full-time fire department, but relies on volunteers to take care of its approximately 1,400 residents. However, volunteers elect their chief and the Board of Alderman approves him as the town's chief.

    The board tabled a request by Langston to purchase a video camera so that board of aldermen meetings could be uploaded to the city's website. Langston said he would get prices on the purchase of equipment.

    Marion's plans to build a sewer line to Dalewood in northeastern Lauderdale County is getting closer to becoming a reality, according to Shawn Miles, engineer for the city. Miles told the mayor and board of aldermen that they are close to the needed permits from rail services and from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

    "Any time you cross the railroad, you have to get what is called an encroachment. It's a little bit different than an easement. The railroad actually owns that property," Miles said. "We've been working with MDOT for the last year or so to make sure we put the line in according to their regulations. We're in the process of putting in that part of the project."

    The town of Marion received a $3.7 million grant from USDA in 2011 to fund the work. Marion will build about 12 miles of line to the Dalewood Sewer District, which will treat sewage at a lower rate than the city of Meridian, which is currently treating it, according to Hudson.

    "We should be ready to advertise for construction probably in the next 30 to 60 days," Miles said.

    He also updated the board on another grant the town is applying for. Miles said the town of Marion has submitted a Community Development Block Grant application to help fund a $450,000 sewer rehab project. The work would include fixing manholes, replacing pumps in an existing pump station, and making necessary repairs to the sewer mains and service lines to stop infiltration into the sewer system, according to Miles.

    "Because of these issues the sewer line cannot handle the wastewater and sewage has backed up into homes on numerous occasions," Miles wrote in a  summary of the grant proposal. "The project is needed to prevent health related issues due to contamination."