City adds Urban Development, Admin employees

The City of Hattiesburg has added two to its roster of employees with Regina Melson as a senior planner in Urban Development and Sid Gonsoulin as the construction manager for parks projects in administration.

Melson comes to Hattiesburg with more than 15 years of planning experience, most recently from the City of McComb, where she served as the zoning director for the Department of Zoning, Inspections and Permits. She has a Master of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology from Jackson State University.

"We are thrilled to have Regina join the Urban Development team as a senior planner," said Andrew Ellard, director of Urban Development. "With service to the cities of McComb, Baton Rouge, and Jackson, as well as the Southwest Mississippi Planning & Development District, she brings hands-on experience in various facets of community development and land use administration."

Gonsoulin, who recently retired from The University of Southern Mississippi as the senior associate vice president for student affairs, will work specifically with projects funded by the 1 percent sales tax that was recently passed by voters in April.

As a longtime resident of Hattiesburg with almost 50 years of experience in higher education, Gonsoulin's background includes planning for, budgeting and seeing projects through to completion for intramural and recreational facilities.

"When we campaigned for the 1 percent tax increase, we championed a process that would be both transparent and mindfully managed," said Mayor Toby Barker. "Sid's expertise and results-driven approach to planning for and managing projects of recreational facilities here in Hattiesburg for Southern Miss, and across the country as an advisor, is a key component of making sure we deliver on that promise."

Gonsoulin’s position will not be funded by proceeds from the special 1 percent sales tax for parks and recreation. The administration retooled an existing vacant position to work collaboratively between all city departments and oversee construction of each of the 1% projects, which include:

· Miracle League inclusion field for children with special needs

· Lighting and drainage improvements to 9th Street Ballpark

· Drainage improvements to soccer fields at Tatum Park

· Expansion of walking path at Duncan Lake

· Tennis facility improvements at Tatum Park

· Light installation at Friendship Park in East Jerusalem neighborhood

· New girls softball field at Hattiesburg High

· Chain Park amphitheater

· Refinishing of Thames Elementary gym floor for use as indoor recreation facility during non-school hours

· Splash pad at Sullivan Park in Palmers Crossing

· Tennis court installation at E 8th Street park

· Property acquisition for park in Midtown

· Playground equipment upgrades at Kamper Park

· Splash pad at Timberton Park

· Renovations at old Hattiesburg American building into community arts center space

· Conversion of dilapidated and abandoned property into public green spaces, pocket parks and community gardens

· Additional blueway public access point on Leaf River

· Sidewalks, bike trails and multi-use paths