Authority hears complaint

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 5, 2004

CENTREVILLE &045; Some Centreville residents and officials say the town plays second fiddle to Woodville when it comes to Wilkinson County’s economic development efforts.

But that complaint struck a sour note with a member of the Wilkinson County Industrial Development Authority.

Economic development dominated the discussion at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Centreville Board of Aldermen.

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Alderman Carl D’Aquila said Centreville has not been included in economic development plans at the county level. Centreville resident Bernie Bagley agreed.

&uot;None of that (funding) is trickling this way,&uot; Bagley said.

D’Aquila said Development Authority officials were invited to attend the Centreville board meeting, but failed to show.

&uot;We can’t even get them to come here. We can’t even find out when they’re having a meeting over there (in Woodville),&uot; D’Aquila said.

But in a telephone interview Thursday, Wilkinson County Chancery Clerk and Development Authority member Thomas Tolliver said he didn’t get the message and could not have attended the Centreville meeting anyway.

&uot;I had two other meetings Tuesday evening. But I would be glad to meet with anyone from Centreville,&uot; Tolliver said.

Tolliver also disagreed with D’Aquila’s contention that Centreville has not been included in county economic development efforts.

&uot;Mr. D’Aquila should get his facts straight. The Wilkinson County Industrial Development Authority appointed the members of Centreville Industrial Development Board and put the money in their hands to buy the property for the Head Start Center there,&uot; Tolliver said.

The Development Authority also purchased the land for the 50-acre Centreville Industrial Park on Mississippi 33; was instrumental in locating a small copolymer plant on Mississippi 33 south of Centreville; and pays for the insurance and upkeep of the former William Carter Company building on the Mississippi 24 bypass, Tolliver said.

&uot;We try not to think in terms of Centreville and Woodville. We try to think in terms of what’s best for the county,&uot; Tolliver said.

Tolliver extended an invitation for Centreville residents and officials to attend a special meeting of the Development Authority June 14.

&uot;We plan to hire a consultant to write grant applications for the county. And our regular meetings are held on the first Tuesday of each month in the courthouse,&uot; Tolliver said.

Bagley, a building contractor, said more effort should be made to locate businesses in Carter building.

The 55,000 square-foot building has been available for lease since the company closed the garment plant and eliminated 350 jobs in 1998.

&uot;We lost the Carter plant, but we haven’t been proactive in going after and physically soliciting people to come in,&uot; Bagley said.

Bagley also said the town has not pursued some funding sources for economic growth.

&uot;There is so much opportunity for different funds for the city to go after &045; and not necessarily just for water and sewer (projects). There are grants available to entice businesses to come in here,&uot; Bagley said.

Bagley offered to research and identify several possible grant sources for the town if aldermen would agree to pursue the grants. Board members agreed &045; provided the grants do not require matching funds.