HOULKA — Houlka’s Mayor and Board of Aldermen had a busy night when they met in regular session Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, at Houlka City Hall at 6:30 p.m.

Aldermen hired a new police officer, purchased a new Police Department vehicle, adjusted the town’s vacation policy, and set a hearing date concerning how a Walker Street building may affect town residents’ health, safety and welfare.

Present were Mayor David Huffman; Alder Lady Kimberly Murphree; Aldermen Dustin Eaton, K. C. Gates, Brad Vance, and Jerry Turner; City Clerk Janie Tutor and Attorney Kevin Howe.

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Huffman.

All votes listed in this article were unanimous unless otherwise stated.

Aldermen:

—Heard a report from the Police Department, and approved hiring Larry Mims as a part-time police officer for the department, which has a chief and five part time officers.

Mims first went on duty Friday, Jan. 7. He and Shelly Mims — who was hired as a part time officer at the board’s December meeting — will be on duty together until they’re comfortable patrolling by themselves. The Mimses are brother and sister.

Larry Mims was hired because the town needed more officers. When former Chief Phillip Smith retired, it left a void, since Smith worked every other weekend and several nights during the week, town officials said.

—Approved purchasing a new Chevrolet Silverado for the Police Department from Larry Clark Chevrolet in Amory at a cost of $40,844.00. The vehicle has been received but not yet striped for police work.

The town received a $26,300 federal USDA grant for the purchase. The balance will come from town funds.

Town officials plan to take the stripes and decals off an old police truck and use it for the town, town official said.

—Approved allowing employees’ unused vacation time to roll over to the next year with a limit on the time rolled over. A maximum of one year’s vacation time can be rolled over if not used. Any unused rolled over vacation time will be forfeited, town officials said.

Attorney Howe will write a resolution detailing the vacation time policy, to be signed by the board at its next meeting Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022.

Under the previous policy, vacation time could be rolled over, but town minutes from many years ago were unclear about details.

—Acting upon their own motion, aldermen have scheduled a hearing at their Feb. 1 meeting to determine if a building at 212 Walker St., is in such a condition and state of uncleanness as to be a menace to public health, safety, and welfare of the community.

The building — unoccupied for many years — has fallen in, leaving several unsupported walls of brick leaning toward adjacent buildings. Town officials fear a storm or strong winds could topple the walls, causing the possibility of injury and/or damage to nearby buildings.

—Heard a report from the Water Department concerning usual maintenance. Bids are now being taken for new automatic meters for the 784 customer system.

The meters will be bought with federal ARPA funds, which can be used for water and sewer improvements, among other things.

The town is seeking bids on several types of meters. One would be keyed to a laptop computer, which would allow town workers to drive by a meter and obtain usage figures without having to get out and read it. A second system would transmit usage figures directly to Town Hall.

No decision has yet been made on which system the town will purchase. Either system would be more accurate than the current system, town official said.

The new system will replace meters that are old, sometimes scratched or otherwise hard to read, and labor-intensive. The current system also puts town workers out reading the meters in sometimes bad weather — rain, snow, ice or other poor conditions, town officials said.

—Tabled a topic prohibiting parking by oversized trucks and trailers or overnight at the Whistle Stop. The topic will be revisited when an ordinance and resolution concerning the matter is written, to be signed by the board at its regular meeting Feb. 1.

Under the new ordinance, parking by oversized trucks and trailers or overnight at the Whistle Stop will be prohibited. A notice in the Chickasaw Journal will be published to advise the public, aldermen said.

The ordinance will be enacted because loaded trailers left at the site are damaging the road, breaking the pavement and causing deep potholes.

Town officials said the problem is getting out of hand. The road damage is expensive to repair and a continuing problem, especially since coal mix filler soon breaks down under the parked vehicles’ weight.

—Approved the agenda as is.

— Approved minutes of the Dec. 7, 2021 meeting.

—Approved paying all claims on the January 2022 Docket.

—Recessed until the regular board meeting on Feb. 1.

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