Meridian Star

June 23, 2013

Bland transition team explore goals for city

By Terri Ferguson Smith /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — From all walks of life, members of Mayor-elect Percy Bland's volunteer transition team gathered together Thursday evening to talk over plans and Bland's vision for leadership in Meridian.

    Some were meeting each other for the first time, but all appeared ready to help the city's new administration put together information that will be used to set policy agenda and initiatives for the city.

    "They are getting a chance to meet each other and talk about some of the things that they are specifically interested in, some things that they think we need to look at in city government," Bland said. "We've got some really good people on these committees. They bring a wealth of knowledge to the table and I know we're going to be able to use that."

    Dr. Greg Auzenne is a member of the Education and Community Development committee.

    "I think if we can get the educational process changed in Meridian, there will be a better labor force in the future. We have to start with our children," Auzenne said. "If we can get our educational system on track, we can get our businesses on track. We can stimulate the economy and we as a whole community can grow."

    Auzenne said job skills training for adults is important, as well.

    The Finance Committee will look for any changes that need to be made in the way the city's spending is handled. Hampton Thames is among members of that committee.

    "What we are doing, beginning tonight, is taking a look at the finances to see if there are ways of looking at contracts and looking at finances over the last three years to see what kind of recommendations we can put in place before the end of the budget," Thames said. "There are conversations about some of the interest on some of the debt that we have from projects that we have done, even well before the last mayor being in office."

    Bland has also included representation from county residents on the City/County Partnership committee. Dr. David McGrew is a county resident who is serving on that committee, which he said is looking for any type of overlap in services that can be improved on.

    "We're going to look at all the inter-local agreements to figure out a more efficient way," McGrew said. "We want to make sure that all the county residents see that we do realize that as Meridian goes, Lauderdale County goes, and we all need to work together for that purpose."

    Bland, along with the Meridian City Council, will be sworn in to office at a public ceremony on July 1 at 11 a.m. at the Temple Theater.