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City Board, October 2017: Kratom, Junior Alderman, water discussed

October Board of Aldermen Hannah Basil reports on Junior Alderman program progress.

A locally available “herbal” drug and the Junior Alderman program were among items drawing new interest at the October Board of Aldermen meeting, Tuesday October 3rd.

New Albany Police Chief Chris Robertson spoke to the board about the local availability of an “herbal” drug called Kratom. Robertson said Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards had contacted him last week about problems with Kratom, also known by other names such as “K-Shots.” Robertson said Kratom is sold without a prescription and is available at several local convenience stores.

Kratom is said to have some properties similar to those found in opioids and stimulants. It has been outlawed in a few states, including Alabama and Arkansas.

[See this link to learn more about Kratom]

Robertson asked the aldermen to consider making it illegal to possess or sell Kratom in the city. He said the Union County Board of Supervisors was considering a similar prohibition. [See this story about the supervisors considering Kratom ban] City Attorney Regan Russell said he was aware that County Attorney Chandler Rogers was working on such an ordinance. Russell said he would research what kind of ordinance regarding Kratom could and should be enacted in New Albany.

Hanna Roberts Basil, a fourth grade teacher at New Albany Elementary School, told the board about progress made in the Junior Alderman program she is sponsoring. High school juniors and seniors were able to apply for admission to the program by submitting an application, including an essay. Applications were due by September 16th. Basil told the board that the applications are being evaluated to select the best students for participation in the program.

October Board of Aldermen

Ward One resident, Vance Smith, speaks for residents wanting improvement in the city’s water.

Vance Smith, a four-year resident of New Albany, appeared before the board to complain about “dirty” and odorous water from the city’s public water supply. This has been an acknowledged problem for several years. Iron Oxide from old ferrous metal water lines is the primary source of discoloration that sometimes occurs in water.  While the iron oxide — essentially rust — is not considered a threat to health, the color is off-putting, and there have been many complaints about the water discoloring laundry.

Bill Mattox, manager of New Albany Lights, Gas and Water (NALGW) said NALGW had been working on the problem since he became manager of the operation seven years ago. Mattox said some improvement had been made by a program of regularly flushing parts of the water system. He said the problem is essentially caused by minerals in the water as it comes from the city’s deep wells and by rust on the inside of old water mains.

Mattox said a complete correction of the problem could only be made by spending a great deal of money. He said putting filters on all seven of the city’s wells would cost between $2.5-million and $3.5-million. Additionally, a great part of the city’s water main system would have  to be replaced at a cost of several million dollars. The city’s annual budget for all departments — police and fire  departments, streets and garbage operations, the city’s extensive parks and recreation program, etc. — is about $7million.

Smith and other citizens at the meeting acknowledged the improvements made during Mattox’s management of NALGW. They said he is always quick and professional in responding to complaints. Smith said her group of Ward One residents wanted to see “specific and measurable results.”

City Marketing and Tourism Director Sean Johnson said “things are going well” for the city’s annual Tallahatchie River Fest, which starts Thursday, October 5 and continues through Saturday, October 7.

For more about RiverFest: 

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