OKOLONA – The Okolona City Council discussed the city's fire rating, which currently sits at a 7.

According to Fire Chief Terry Tucker, the reason that the rating is so high is because they still have fire fighters dispatching for the Police Department.

He said that unless that is changed, the rating will not be lowered.

He suggested that the board perhaps look into hiring part-time help that would only do dispatching, and that would help in the way of freeing up the fire department as well as potentially lowering the fire rating for the city.

The board did not take any action on the matter at the meeting, but said that they would reconsider the proposition at a later date.

Council Members also:

– Approved the agenda with additions.

– Opened the floor for citizen comments, of which there were none.

– Tabled financial reports for the City, however, they were approved later.

– Approved the financial reports for the Electric Department.

– Approved the claims for the city.

– Approved the claims for the Electric Department.

– Approved the Feb. 9 minutes with some grammatical corrections.

– Discussed the replacement of tombstones that have fallen over in the cemetery. Mayor Sherman Carouthers informed the board that Houston Monument Company was coming to take a look and get an estimate on how much it would be to remedy the problem.

– Discussed the policies on permits for repairing houses.

– Discussed the upcoming annual city audit.

– Discussed the board meetings not being held in the board room and being broadcast over Facebook Live. Carouthers informed the board that they were meeting in the smaller room because the party phone line needed to accommodate multiple people calling in was in City Hall and that way council members who couldn't make it or department heads could call in. He also said that the Facebook Live was bringing the meeting into the public forum since they are not allowing many people in due to COVID restrictions.

– Discussed where campaign signage could be placed within city limits.

– Approved repairs to the Electric Department truck from Donald Jacobs, in the amount of $8,413.

– Approved the increase in the cost estimate for debris removal from the recent demolitions in the city. It increased from $900 to $2,500 per house because the company was not aware that they would also have to load the debris. The extra cost is to account for labor and equipment hauling and use.

– Approved contracting with Phelps and Dunbar to review and revise the city's personnel policy.

– Took under advisement the suggestion of setting the rules, regulations and fees for the National Guard Armory community center.

– Approved the consent items.

– Accepted the resignation of John Tharp from the water department effective March 8.

– Approved the recommendation from Earl Blanchard of the Planning and Zoning Board to rezone the property beside Sonic from Industrial 1 to Commercial 2 with conditional uses to accommodate Dollar General, who is looking to build a store there.

– Entered into executive session, where no official action was taken.

– Approved moving Jawan Hunter from the Police Department to the Fire Department part-time at $10 per hour.

– Approved hiring Tyler Lee part-time to the Fire Department at $9 per hour, pending drug test.

– Approved hiring Douglas West part-time at the Fire Department at $10 per hour, and he will work on an as needed basis.

– Approved hiring Daniel Russell to the street and water department at $10 per hour.

– Approved moving Brandon Moore from part-time to full-time at the same rate of pay.

– Approved Hetty Turner as the Supervisor of the Electric Department with a salary of $40,000, pending a drug test.

– Adjourned.

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