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The College of Aldermen looks to a bright future in 2022 – Picayune Item

In 2022, the College of Aldermen of the city of Poplarville has three objectives in mind.

These goals are to improve economic development to create more jobs, improve infrastructure, and improve civic and community engagement.

Mayor Louise Smith reflected on the impact of COVID on the Town of Poplarville in 2021 and addressed the disconnect COVID has made on the community, which includes delayed improvements and changes and the loss of family and friends .

Smith plans to leave the damage caused in 2021 by COVID and recover. She thinks the Poplarville community will grow exponentially this year.

“We are resilient people and we know the recovery is within us.” said Smith.

“Our municipal government is working to revitalize relationships in our community to make our city more economically viable. We are very fortunate to have many existing assets and distinctive resources to help us rebuild our economic base,” said Smith.

Alderman Bobby Nestle has several street projects he wants to see done in 2022. The reconstruction of Larkin Smith Drive is one of them.

“Larkin Smith Drive is a big street that is going to be a big expense, but I think we can get there and I think it will be a big improvement, especially with the hallway and the college there,” said Nestle.

The project has been filed several times, mainly due to its high cost. But Nestlé thinks the board should act accordingly.

“It’s just going to get more expensive if we don’t,” Nestlé said.

The stabilization of the workforce within the town hall and the public works services is another objective. The town hall has had a lot of staff turnover. Former City Clerk Jane O’Neal resigned along with Payroll/Accounts Payable Clerk Renee Bridges and City Court Clerk Jourdan Smith. According to previous coverage, O’Nell quit after the council hired a new public works assistant at a higher rate of pay than her own. The Commission is still looking for a City Clerk, but has hired an Assistant Clerk.

“Some of this was kind of expected…but hiring the Public Works Assistant is actually a forward-looking goal, because we know that Sam (Superintendent of Public Works) is going to retire, and that was the purpose of it. This is to bring him in and train him fully before Sam retires,” Nestlé said.

Under the direction of Police Chief Daniel Collier, the Poplarville Police Department has worked hard to implement the National Incident Reporting System (NIBRS), Smith said.

Benefits of NIBRS include greater accuracy in reporting offences, gathering more detailed information, helping to give context to specific crimes, and providing greater analytical flexibility.

The police department also moves into its new station, where the Mississippi Power Company office in Poplarville was located on West Cumberland Street.

Under the direction of Fire Chief Jason Bannister, the Poplarville Fire Department received the classification of a Rural Fire Department. This qualifies Poplarville for the state’s Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Assistance Program which offers matching grants of up to $70,000.

Public Works Superintendent Sam Hale has completed the Town of Poplarville’s Utilities Emergency Response Plan and is working with the town engineer to develop a five-year water plan.

The city has partnered with several companies to provide housing, sanitize areas and soon install security cameras.

Code Enforcement Officer Kolby Davis worked with the owners to clean up the Todd Trailer Park across from Upper Elementary School. The city of Poplarville is currently partnering with the Mississippi Regional Housing Authority to redevelop the vacant and derelict Glendwild property on Martin Luther King Drive, Smith said.

The Council received $712,705 in ARPA funds that can be spent on projects this year. Some of these funds can be used for the five-year water replenishment plan.

“The huge possible water system project is top of our radar for 2022,” Alderman Anne Smith said.

In previous meetings, the board has discussed ideas for future projects, such as a community centre, a project that Nestlé fully supports.

“It’s something I heard from citizens long before I decided to run for office and having it brought up at the last meeting really piqued my interest,” Nestlé said.

Nestlé doesn’t expect the project to be finished in 2022, but it wants to get the ball rolling.

Louise Smith and the College of Aldermen promise to think bigger this year.

“We are accepting a challenge in 2022 from Ben Carson, MD. We plan to dream big… We will meet the leadership challenges of being held responsible and accountable for our work. We will continue to work diligently to overcome obstacles and challenges. Our municipal government will lead with collaboration, transparency and innovation to build a community where people grow and prosper,” said Louise Smith.