Board concerned about cable

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 24, 1999

The quality of cable reception was again a topic of discussion at the board of aldermen meeting Tuesday night.

Alderman David Massey said he was disappointed with Cable One’s decision to raise its rates by mid-September.

&uot;My reception is just as bad as it’s been in I don’t know how long,&uot; Massey said.

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Cable One Manager Bobby McCool told the board at its meeting two weeks ago that the company felt it had solved reception problems with off-air channels, clearing the way for the rate increase.

Earlier this summer the company had suspended its rate increase because of public outcry over the quality of reception.

McCool said the company had spent $20,000 working to improve reception of the lower channels, most of which carry signals from cities 90 to 120 miles away from Natchez.

He told the board two weeks ago the company had done everything it could short of having the stations to strengthen their signals.

But Massey said his constituents are still complaining to him about problems with reception.

&uot;If (complaints to the company) have dropped off and people are fine with it, that’s not reflected in my phone calls,&uot; Massey said.

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux, who hosted a public hearing on cable problems in June, said the city is looking at its franchise contract with Cable One.

City Attorney Walter Brown said the city does have the option of not renewing its contract with the company when the contract is up next year.

&uot;You don’t have to renew it, but by the same token, you have to have somebody else,&uot; Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown said.

Massey encouraged residents to call Public Service Commissioner George Byars if they have problems with the cable system.

The board took no action on the topic Tuesday.

In other business, the board:

n Gave final approval to its intention to issue $12 million in bonds for the downtown convention center project. The project includes a convention center, community center and renovation of the City Auditorium.

The money will be borrowed from the Mississippi Development Bank, so it will not count against the city’s total bond debt.

n Heard from attorney Brown that negotiations for the final convention center property, owned by Dennis Switzer, are almost complete. That is the final piece of property the city needs to acquire in order to have all of the land for the convention center and a proposed hotel development.

n Approved an ordinance that would require business owners to eliminate cross connections in the city’s water supply. City Engineer David Gardner said a cross connection is a way for non-city water to get into the city’s water supply, allowing for possible contaminiation.

n Approved $8,808 in federal bond money for curb and gutter work on Main Street. Gardner said the project will take in the curbs from Union to Broadway streets. The money will come from unpsent funds from Massey’s Ward 5, and the work will be contracted to R.W. Delaney Construction.

n Authorized the mayor to apply for state funds to build houses in Natchez and Adams County. Community Devleopment Coordinator James Johnston said the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development is administering the funds. A&160;developer would actually take the risk of building the houses, and the city would not lose any money on the project.

n Contracted with engineering firm Jordan Kaiser Sessions for engineering work on the project to rebuild Government Fleet Road. Gardner said the city chose the engineer because the city received the $1.5 million grant for the project, but the county will actually pay the engineer.

n Authorized the mayor to contract with TriStem, which will perform an audit of the city’s utilities and telephone bills to find ways to save money.

n Recognized Police Chief Willie Huff, who has been invited to speak at the year 2000 conference of an England and Wales police association. The conference will be held in July in London.

n Set an appeal hearing for Knight Sign Industries, which had requested a sign variance for a 278 square foot sign at Natchez Mall. The hearing will be at 11 a.m. Sept. 14.

n Appointed Andy Sartin to the Natchez Preservation Commission.

n Recognized as its PROUD&160;program Spencer Sylvester, who volunteers every week at the Natchez Stewpot.

n Set a special meeting for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31, to discuss restructuring the city’s bond debt.