Magee board to OK cigar smoking in cityBy PAT BROWN,
For all you connoisseurs of fine cigars there is good news: the Magee Board of Aldermen has voted to adopt an ordinance to allow indulging publically in that cigar soon.
The board voted and approved making an exception to the current ordinance which does not allow smoking in businesses in Magee. The ordinance was originally part of a Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthy City initiative. The city was awarded $25,000 for not allowing smoking in public.
The city is now applying for a $50,000 grant which is tied to some of the same health initiative. Mayor Dale Berry told the board he had talked with Blue Cross and they indicated that allowing smoking would not prevent the city from getting the grant but would lower the score in one of the eight areas considered when awarding the grants.
Alderman Matthew Hickman moved to adopt the new ordinance, seconded by Angel Brister. It passed with three aldermen voting in favor and Lane Steele and Patrick Brown abstaining from the vote. Steele told the board, “I feel like I am being deceptive to Blue Cross Blue Shield by voting in favor of this motion.” He said he was one of the aldermen that originally voted for the ordinance that qualified the city for the $25,000. He said he would sleep better by not voting in favor of the new ordinance.
That ordinance will be published in next week’s Magee Courier. It will go into effect one month after the publication date according to the city attorney Bruce Smith.
The board also discussed food trucks in the city of Magee. Mayor Berry has expressed his opinion that they should not be allowed because it takes away from businesses that have a brick and mortar presence. After discussion the board decided to allow food trucks in designated C-3 areas of the zoning plan.
This came as a solution after zoning administrator David Dunn told the board he had been in touch the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District about the issue of food trucks. This is a new issue to zoning, Dunn said, adding that Jackson is implementing a $2,500 fee for food trucks. The board discussed whether allowing the trucks to sell food was part of the new downtown revitalization plan or if it is fair to existing businesses. The decision to allow food truck in C-3 is temporary and will allow the board to discuss the matter further.
The board heard that Bruce Lewis is interested in putting a flea market operation in the old hatchery building located on old Highway 49.
There was discussion about a restaurant being opened across from Rhoda Little. This lead into discussion about seating and permits as well privilege licenses.
The board heard from Sherman’s Septic Services about being allowed to dump into the city’s sewer system. Two businesses are currently being allowed to dump their waste in the city but those businesses are located in Magee. Alderman Patrick Brown expressed concern about taking additional waste materials with the city facing problems with the Environmental Protection Agency. The board delayed a decision until a status could be determined as to what the city would need to do to stay within standards of the current lagoon.
Berry also reported that there was interest in locating a large flea market operation in Magee similar to the one on Highway 49 in Florence where space could be leased by vendors. He said there is discussion about what zoning restrictions may relate to the potential new business venture.
It was reported to the aldermen that most of the hangars at the Magee Airport are compliant with regulations and that there is a waiting list in the event that the occupants in question do not comply.
Magee’s Police Chief Randy Crawford reported two recent accidents that happened where police officers were rear ended. He said in both cased the other autos involved had insurance.
The board approved hiring Shane Fewell as a part-time police officer. Fewell is going to work full-time with the Simpson County Sheriff’s Department. The board approved promoting Chris Jones from narcotics to investigator. They also approved taking Dillon Brown from part-time to full-time. Beck Freeman was approved to go from part-time to full-time as a dispatcher. Brandi Hannah was approved as a full-time jailer.
The board approved paying up to $5,500 for repair of a pump in the East Side Subdivision.
Lawrence Wallace addressed the board along with Alvin Moore. The two recently filmed a start-up television series in Magee, Walk a Mile in My Shoes. It deals with the real life situations children have to face in their lives once they leave school. A debut is set to air at 6 p.m. Saturday night at the Magee Community Center. Wallace said they have presented the series to BET and there is interest in taking the show into a series.
The next meeting of the City of Magee is set for Tuesday, November 21, at 6:30 p.m.