ABERDEEN – Orein Holley, who owns Amory’s Park Hotel, explained to the board of supervisors Jan. 10 the investment he’s making to the building, including a restaurant that will seat 200 patrons and 16 apartments.

The budget to complete work on the first and second floors before the restaurant’s projected opening in March is $459,000, and the total project totals $866,000. He said Columbus developer Chris Chain has remodeled 60 buildings through adding business and apartments.

“He said what he does through the City of Columbus is they allow him either a five-year or a seven-year [period] where they do not raise his taxes because he’s spent so much money on the buildings,” he said.

He requested that supervisors refrain from a tax increase temporarily to keep the figure at the same rate. He adding the same tax request will be presented at the next Amory Board of Aldermen meeting.

“That will give me a five-year timeframe to start recouping some of my money before the taxes jump,” he said. “I just need some help so my taxes don’t skyrocket since I’m making improvements to that building.”

Later in the meeting, after talking with Lowndes County officials, county tax assessor Mitzi Presley said the City of Columbus has a historical exemption, and Amory had a historical district where that could happen. However, it was rescinded in 2015.

She said there would still be taxes paid to the county and schools on the amount of improvement but not on the city tax, providing Amory officials approve the historical district.

Holley said rooftop dining will be available in 2021, and six of the 16 apartments have already been spoken for from future tenants. He plans to open his restaurant in time for April’s Amory Railroad Festival.

Steve Sanderson is the architect working on the project.

Board business

Retired county road manager Sonny Clay, who is still assisting at board meetings, said the county received a $115,000 check last week from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for road projects, including the majority for repairs on Sharpley Bottom Road in Aberdeen.

The road suffered damage when heavy truck traffic had to be diverted from the port road to there after floods early last year.

“Even better news is we got an email yesterday from FEMA wanting us to sign off on the refunding of the debris removal,” Clay said. “It balanced out to the penny from what we were showing.”

Supervisors took bids, ranging from approximately $250,000 to $415,000, under advisement for a box culvert underneath Smithville Road. The project estimate is $247,300.50.

District 1 Supervisor Joseph Richardson was approved to purchase a $100 ad in the Hatley baseball program on behalf of the county from his rural recreation fund. District 5 Supervisor Hosea Bogan was approved to make a $145 donation from his rural recreation fund for trophies for Friday’s Salute to Service Awards at Aberdeen High School.

Public appearances

A number of people appeared before supervisors addressing topics.

Tonya Shirley of Three Rivers Planning and Development District talked to the board about delinquent garbage bill collection sites in Aberdeen and Amory. There is a drop box at the Monroe County Government Complex in Amory, and Money Matters in Aberdeen will stop accepting payments at the end of January.

“While a drop box is a great option, I think the county needs to have a place that a customer can make a payment to be able to go and purchase a car tag,” she said.

After a garbage bill is delinquent for 90 days, a person cannot purchase a license plate from the county tax collector’s office until it’s paid.

County officials are still looking for a business in Aberdeen to be willing to accept garbage bill payments.

Tombigbee River Valley Water Management District Executive Director David Kennard said new counties will soon join the group. The entity can do work on private property to improve drainage.

Clay asked if taking in the new counties will hinder the timeliness of project completion.

“That would be the downside,” Kennard said. “When we do big projects, we don’t skip all over the district. We go from Kemper County to Alcorn County. We typically try to start in Alcorn County and work three or four projects and march our way south. If there are projects at that time that are high-priority projects, we have no problem if you call us to redirect a crew.”

The majority of people in attendance voiced their support for Jason Sullivan to be reinstated as a county veteran service officer for a current opening in Amory. He is one of the applicants for the position and formerly served in the same position in Aberdeen until he was terminated by the previous administration in 2018.

“In the four years he was our VSO officer, he brought into the county…it jumped from $2.93 million, and when he left it was at $10,000,206,” said VFW Post #4490 Commander Anthony Daniels of veterans benefits secured.

He added Sullivan continues to help veterans in his free time.

Board president Fulton Ware said the board will take comments spoken by Daniels, Sylvia Patterson, John Roberts and other veterans in attendance into consideration.

In a separate matter, supervisors approved to begin making annual allocations to VFW Post #4490.

Bishop Eugene Sacus requested for the board to consider Monroe County Justice Court to hold court in Aberdeen at least once a month; for board members to ask state officials to defer a portion of lottery earnings to help lower the cost of license plates; and for another voting precinct to be added in Prairie to help residents of the Palo Alto, Davidson Line and Wilson Hill areas.

County chancery clerk Ronnie Boozer said justice court was being held for a while in the Monroe County Chancery Building, but it posed clerical issues so the board of supervisors at the time decided it wasn’t feasible for it to be held in both Aberdeen and Amory. As far as the voting precinct, Clay said this year’s census will lead to redistricting across the county to see the need for precinct locations.

Aberdeen Ward 3 Alderman David Ewing voiced his desire to work with Sheriff Kevin Crook to help work center inmates transition so they won’t fall back into lives of crime after their serving their sentences.

Richardson recalled a time when it was asked if having them take the WorkKeys test could help them. Monroe County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chelsea Baulch said there’s no cost for people 18 and older to take it for the first time.

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