City Council gets update on police and fire departments and I-59 exits
The Picayune City Council received an update from multiple department heads during Tuesday’s meeting as part of the City Manager’s Report.
Assistant Fire Chief Ronnie Reynolds reported that they have had very few calls due the rain. Reynolds was asked about the size of the force and he reported that the department is fully staff with 33 full time firefighters with recent addition of three recruits and the department employs 10 part time firefighters.
Assistant Police Chief James Bolton reported that the rain has also kept arrests down and for the most part kept the officers inside due to the lesser amount of incidents/calls. Bolton said the department is two full time officers from being fully staffed. The current roster has 31 fulltime officers and 10 part-time officers. In regards to the bank robbery at the north branch of the First National Bank of Picayune, Bolton stated the investigation is ongoing in search of the female suspect. Bolton stated he has been in contact with all media sources in hopes of getting the information to the public.
City Manager Freddy Drennan brought a resolution of intent to enter into an adoption of interchange agreement with the Mississippi Department of Transportation. This resolution will give the city of Picayune the responsibility of maintaining exits 4 and 6 on Interstate 59 that cross through the city.
Drennan stated he does not have an exact figure at the current time for the entire takeover, but the cost of the electric bill for the overhead lights appears to be approximately $19,000.00 per year. Drennan said he was working with Director of Public Works Eric Morris on what the cost would be to the city for mowing grass at the exits which he and Drennan acknowledge would be additional hours from the current personnel.
Morris also stated the city would be responsible for the maintenance of the overhead lights which would also include lowering of the lights if needed due to weather events such as the threat of hurricanes.
Councilman Frank Ford asked if the city adopted the resolution to move forward, would the city be able to rescind the adoption of the resolution if it later decided to no longer maintain the exits? Drennan said that he does not have a final resolution to be able to answer that question. Drennan added that the state (MDOT) is looking to see if the city wants to maintain these exits. He stated that MDOT has spent a lot of money in working to get the exit interchange areas in pristine condition.
City Clerk Amber Hinton stated this money is not in the current budget and would have to be added to the next fiscal year.
Numerous groups including the Chamber of Commerce, Picayune Main Street, and Economic Development office all voiced their support of the city maintaining the exits.
The council voted unanimously to move forward in the process to move to the next step of communication with MDOT on the exits.