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New Albany Aldermen conduct business, praise fire and police work, July 5th

Mike Slaughter, of Slaughter and Associates, discused New Albany's comprehensive plan

New Albany, MS– A presentation by Mike Slaughter, a consultant from Oxford, was the first item on the agenda at Tuesday night’s meeting of the city board.

Slaughter, who is the principle of Slaughter and Associates, was there to persuade the New Albany Board of Aldermen to update its “comprehensive plan.” He referred to a plan on which he had worked with the city of New Albany in 2009, which, he said, “had never really been finished.”

The apparent purpose of a comprehensive plan is to prepare for the future growth of a city by deciding how various parts of the city and different parcels of land might best be used; for example, whether the land should be used for industrial purposes or single family housing or apartments or retail stores, etc. Use of such a plan is closely tied to zoning issues, and would, said Slaughter, give the board “guidance” in deciding future requests for zoning variances and other zoning matters.

He displayed a number of charts and maps and gave the New Albany aldermen a written proposal for updating the city’s plan. He estimated it would take four to six months to update the plan and that his firm would charge $20,000 to $30,000 to help with the work. The mayor and board indicated to Slaughter that they would study his proposal and address the subject with him at a later date.

The board of the Magnolia Civic Center (MCC) in downtown New Albany wants to increase the utilization of the facility. It is perhaps the finest such facility of any smaller city in the state. The MMC includes the 400-seat Cine Theatre, with its professional stage, modern lighting system, dressing area, good-sized wings, cross over areas and, even a “fly loft” for staging ambitious productions.

The MCC also includes the Magnolia Room, a meeting room that will accommodate about 200 people. The Magnolia Room is equipped with a catering kitchen and can seat about 100 for sit-down meals. The Cine and Magnolia Room share lobby and restroom facilities.

Represented by its chairman, Mike Staten, the MCC board asked the New Albany aldermen for a $27,000 increase in its budget for FY 2017 to allow hiring a director, whose work would concentrate on developing the potential of MCC. Staten made the case that promoting additional events and productions to the Magnolia Civic Center would further enhance the development of downtown New Albany and bring customers to its shops and restaurants.

Lights, Gas and Water manager Bill Mattox asked for, and received, authorization to seek bids for a new entrenching machine for the city-owned utility operation.

New Albany Tourism and Marketing Director Sean Johnson told the board that completion of the stage at the Park-Along-The-River had been held up because needed hardware had not arrived. Johnson said the need items have now arrived and should allow the outdoor stage to be complete by July 20th.

Both Police Chief Chris Robertson and Fire Chief Steve Coker took bows for the performance of their two departments when the Calvary Methodist Church was set afire by a lightning strike Monday evening. The quick and able work of the fire department brought the fire under control within minutes, preventing what might otherwise have been a total loss. The police department, with help of officers from the Union County Sheriff’s Department, managed the relatively heavy traffic on Highways 15 and 348, which intersect immediately in front of the church building.

Robertson asked and received permission to accept the bid of $8,225 from the University of Mississippi police department for NAPD’s old two-way communication equipment, which has been replaced by a new MSWIN communications system.
Coker received permission to allow a private company to develop and sell advertising for a calendar to promote the work of the fire Department.

City Code Enforcement Officer Eric Thomas told the board a junk automobile had been removed and a condemned house had been demolished during June. Thomas also participated in a hearing in which the board discussed condemnation of a house at 209 Simmons Street with a representative of the property owner. The board granted additional time to bring the property into compliance with the city building code.

The board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters at the end of its regular session. When the executive session ended, the board hired Joey Watson as assistant code enforcement officer.

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