Mendenhall has some big projects on the tableBy PAT BROWN,
We had the opportunity to visit with Mendenhall’s mayor, Todd Booth, who brought us up to snuff on some of the plans for improving Mendenhall.
When we spoke to him a week or so back, the city was about to launch their paving program. This year the aldermen budgeted $90,000 to be divided over the four wards in the city. The mayor said this doesn’t go a long way, but the city is limited on how much they can spend. He said the city board allowed each alderman to decide what was to be paved in his or her ward. Booth said this would allow for probably one street in each ward along with patching other problem areas in the wards. Booth said this was less than the $127,000 that was spent the year before, but he is hopeful for next year that with the new Use Tax the city would have $200,000 for paving.
Booth described three major projects on the table that he and the board are working on: the completion of the frontage road connecting highways 13 and 49, the sewer lift station and the water tank located on 13 south of Mendenhall.
Regarding the new frontage road, Booth said that Highway 49 is one of the most heavily traveled routes in Mississippi but that travelers often do not realize they are missing Mendenhall when they are driving through so his goal is to attract some of the traffic from Highway 49 into Mendenhall proper. He said that was the reason for the flower beds at the intersection of 13 and 49 and that the city plans to add eight to ten new street lights on East Street to encourage people to come into town. He said the whole goal is to get them to visit so they may consider either moving or locating a business in town.
He added, “Part of the problem we are facing in the town is we have a lot of people who are exempt from taxes because of their age, and our tax base is small.” Booth says he wants to recruit more people and businesses to town to grow the tax base.
Booth reported that the dirt work on the frontage road is to be completed by August 6 and the paving will then start. This should open more options for retail development. Booth said a lot of people do not want to cross Highway 49 for safety reasons. The frontage road will give them access to different parts of town without having to get on or cross Highway 49.
The city received a $450,000 Community Development Block
grant that will be used to build a new lift station for the city’s sewer operation. In order to develop, the city must have adequate infrastructure in place and a lift station fufills another requirement in order to offer proper services to residents and businesses. Booth emphasized that the city cannot develop or attract new businesses without infrastructure. He said this grant will also be used to keep storm water from entering the sewer system.
Another part of the equation for Mendenhall is to finalize accepting the water tank as city property in the industrial park on Highway 13. Booth said this will increase the volume of water for the city. The transfer has been approved by the county and is being processed.
New athletic fields are on the drawing board at Mendenhall High School for baseball and girls softball. Booth said if the school leaves the existing field, which the city owns, the city may develop the property into two soccer fields.
Booth also mentioned plans for a new RV park on highway 49 near JJ’s convenience store, which, incidentally, is another new business.
Booth said that Strong River Assisted Living has been expanding and adding additional space to the rear of their facility.
La Tesha Millis, city purchasing clerk, is now chairing Keep Mendenhall Beautiful, and the group’s efforts are really improving the look of the community.
Booth said that the city maintains the grass on Old Highway 49, “which is part of the reason it looks nice when you visit Mendenhall.” He said he would also like to maintain part of Highway 49 but does not have the personnel to do so.
Booth was complimentary of Police Chief Candy McCollum. He said the city has a new fleet of automobiles for officers, and they are upgrading computer services in the department.
The mayor said he was pleased with the way the Little League program ran this year and said that three Mendenhall teams are traveling to the World Series.
Booth mentioned that there would be a vacancy for Parks and Recreation Director. He said anyone interested should contact city hall and complete an application.