City purchases land at former cemetery site for future park

By DAVID GUSTAFSON,

The Hattiesburg City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the purchase of an acre of land located at 500 William Carey Parkway for a future park near the historic Mt. Olive Cemetery the city purchased last month.

The city paid $13,600 for the property and purchased it from the Ephesus Seventh Day Adventist Church, which is located at the front of the property.

The five-acre cemetery dates back to 1906, when employees of the Tatum Lumber Company secured a loan from W.S.F. Tatum to buy the property to bury black families.

Some 250 people are believed to have been buried on the property, which had been abandoned a number of years ago.

In other business, the council:

• Approved budget amendments to the city’s general fund to note the acceptance of a contribution for maintenance and preservation of Oaklawn Cemetery as well as the expense of a used pickup to transport mowing equipment for an additional mowing crew.

• Approved budget amendments of $557,733 to account for the interest payment on 2019 general obligation bonds used to fund work on the city’s public safety complex, $705,000 for demolition costs, $31.1 million for construction costs, and $1.25 million to transfer capitalized interest on those bonds.

• Signed off on a requisition of $24,783 as part of a 2016 loan in the amount of $25 million from the Mississippi Development Bank used for water and sewer projects.

• Authorized an application of an 80/20 grant totaling $120,000 from the state’s “Recreational Trails Program” to help fund the construction of a one-third mile extension of the city’s existing trail system near Duncan Lake.

• Made a formal request to the Mississippi Department of Transportation to initiate the 38th Avenue Roadway Improvements Project. Total cost of the project will be $2.1 million with $1.6 million coming in federal funds and $535,000 in local monies. The project will include asphalt overlay, landscaped median, and sidewalk lighting along 38th Avenue from Hardy Street to West 4th Street; sidewalk improvements along Hardy Street from 38th Avenue to 37th Avenue; and a traffic signal at the intersection of 38th Avenue and Montague Boulevard.

• Authorized the mayor to execute an agreement between the City of Hattiesburg and Complete Environmental & Remediation Co., LLC to provide labor, equipment, and disposal services for the 2019 Household Hazardous Waste Event planned for April 20 at the Bobby L. Chain Airport.

• Authorized the mayor to execute a facilities sharing agreement between the City and the University of Southern Mississippi to allow both entities to utilize the other’s recreational facilities for planned programming to “enhance the lives of the citizens.”

• Signed off on an agreement for the federal government to reimburse the city for overtime salaries, travel, fuel, training, and equipment incurred by the local police department as it assists the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

• Approved adding additional lighting at East 7th Street from Main Street to the railroad tracks for an additional cost of $47 per month and made a request to Mississippi Power to remove and replace lighting at the former Hattiesburg American building, which is expected to save the city $122 per month.

• Approved a $50,000 housing rehabilitation grant to Erica Lee of 216 N. 19th Ave. to complete planned improvements to her home. In exchange for the grant monies, Lee agrees to live in the home for five years.

• Authorized an agreement with the Mississippi State Fire Academy to conduct a field training program for the Hattiesburg Fire Department.

• Acknowledged receipt of a $264,000 grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to cover 75 percent of the cost of an emergency watershed protection project to shore up the banks of Gordons Creek near Timothy Lane and Salvage World. Total cost of the project is $351,750, but the city’s share is only $88,000.