HOULKA -- New Houlka’s Mayor and Board of Aldermen took action on stray dogs, and the town streets on which they often roam, during the board’s most recent meeting.

The board met Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at Houlka City Hall at 6:30 p.m.

Attendees included Mayor Jimmy Kelly; Alder Ladies Bonnie Brown and Kimberly Murphree; Alderman Dustin Eaton; City Clerk Janie Tutor, and Attorney Kevin Howe.

Beverly Davidson and K. C. Gates were absent.

Others attending the board meeting were David Huffman, Jerry Turner, Brad Vance, Rachael Reeves, and Debra Simmons.

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Kelly at 6:30 p.m.

The board took care of the following items of business:

-- Approved allowing a building to house stray dogs to be placed on the extra five acres that the town owns near the new lagoon. The building, which would be paid for through a grant, won’t be put up until the grant is received.

The board acted after hearing from Rachael Reeves and Debra Simmons -- volunteers who try to find homes for animals and help with stray dogs and cats -- who met with aldermen to discuss the town’s dog problem.

Both women said there is grant money available to pay for the building, which would keep the dogs until someone claims them or they can be sent elsewhere.

The size of any grant, where it would come from and when it would be received are still unclear, town officials said this week.

The grant requires the town to provide a place for the building. The women would then insure the dogs are fed and cared for. At that point the town would be under no further financial obligation, town officials said.

The board has wrestled with the dog issue for several years.

The problem is that there is no place for the dogs after they are caught. The surrounding areas all have private dog pounds or are not accepting any dogs in their pounds or kennels. The Humane Society is not accepting dogs from another county either.

Mayor Kelly said the problem has developed in recent years. A town dogcatcher used to catch stray animals and take them to a Pontotoc facility.

That person left about 2014, and dealing with stray dogs has been an unsolved problem ever since.

The law requires three things: an ordinance allowing stray dogs to be picked up, a place to keep them and certified personnel to operate the facility -- none of which the town now has, but all of which it is now working to accomplish, the mayor said last week.

--Approved accepting engineering firm Cook Coggins’ proposal to pave streets in town. The work would be financed by a $500,000 grant.

At the board’s March meeting, aldermen voted to apply for the $500,000 Small-Town Municipal Grant, which would pay 90% of the cost of the work.

The board acted after meeting with John Byers, a community and economic developer with Three Rivers Planning and Development District.

Sealed applications from engineering companies interested in doing the work were opened Monday, March 29 at 3 p.m. and decided on at the board’s Tuesday meeting.

Those bids are designed to come up with preliminary reports of what needs to be done, and how much it will cost. That information will then be used to develop the grant application.

“The grant applications will lean on the expertise of the engineering firms to look at what streets can be fixed with minor repairs, and which streets are in the worst disrepair which would be more complicated,” Byers said.

No list of streets to be worked on has been developed yet, town officials said last week.

If the town is approved for the grant, there’s no set date when the work would start, since the grants are funded depending on the availability of state funds, town officials said.

Byers said this is the first time Houlka has applied for such a street improvement grant through Three Rivers. The town has done a number of grants through that agency for water and sewer upgrades, and for purchase of public works vehicles such as police cars, he said.

Applications for similar grants from other towns have often been submitted between May and July, with no work actually starting until late fall or early spring, he said.

--Approved the agenda with addition of Tori Naugle’s request.

--Approved minutes of the March 2, and March 29, 2021 meetings.

--Approved all claims on the April 2021 Docket.

--Heard routine reports from the water and police departments.

--Approved opening Houlka City Hall and opening the Community Center for rental.

--Approved a motion to give possession of the woodchipper to Chickasaw County in exchange for 10 days of street paving around town and the town would be allowed the use of the woodchipper any time that it was needed in town.

--Approved an annual Library Payment of $2,748.10. This helps pay for books and the salary of the librarian at the Houlka Library.

--Approved a motion to take $10,000 from each, General, Water and Meter deposits and put in another CD for the town. The total of the CD will be $30,000.

--Approved allowing Tori Naugle, pastor of the Assembly of Worship Church, to have a tent revival at the park beginning on Sunday, May 16, and to have access to the park bathroom facilities.

--Recessed until the regular board meeting on Tuesday, May 4.

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