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Ferriday discusses water plant issues

Ferriday — The Town of Ferriday is on the way to having its new water plant, but the stipulations have to be hashed out first.

In March the board of aldermen voted to pass a loan resolution from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the amount of $1,384,000 for the town’s new water meters. The resolution ties into the $6 million grant the town received to build its new water plant.

First, a third party is required to manage the plant, and aldermen had questions about that at their regular meeting Tuesday. USDA Rural Development State Director, Clarence W. Hawkins, was on hand with staff members at the meeting to address concerns and answer questions of the board and community.

Alderman Johnny Brown said he understood a third-party agreement will allow someone unconnected to the board to run the water plant and collect the money.

“You folks are still in charge,” Hawkins said, gesturing to the board members. “The third party will still be working for you. All they get is their fee, and they will be audited. If they don’t do it properly, you can fire them.”

Mayor Glen McGlothin said having a third party involved takes the politics out of water plant functions.

Hawkins drove home the fact that, in life, at times you must play by someone else’s rules.

“Sometimes there are stipulations, and we don’t apologize for that,” Hawkins said. “Water is a necessity, not a luxury. These steps are not foreign, not extraneous and not unusual. One thing we require is a third party manager or operator involved. Mayors and boards change. You must have a constant somewhere.”

City engineer Bryant Hammett said only one third party has responded to a request for proposals to manage the plant. A selection board will meet Wednesday to review the response, and will come back the following week to meet with the respondent.

“The USDA will not allow us to move forward with this project until a third-party operating agreement is in place,” Hammett said.

An ordinance issuing $950,000 for water revenue bonds will be the topic at a public hearing at the May 10 meeting.

Hawkins reminded the board that when they are dealing with U.S. money, it has to be handled right and the system properly maintained.

“This is for everyone’s protection,” Hawkins said. “You deserve to have fresh water on demand.”

Also at the meeting, a resolution was passed authorizing a bank account to be opened with $210,000 in Walmart funds. McGlothin said when Walmart vacated Ferriday, the store agreed to pay out $1.5 million in lost sales tax revenue to the town as part of a 10-year pledge.

“Without the Walmart money, we could not fix the water or sewer plant,” McGlothin said.

In other business:

– The board approved that Sarah Edward Crumb and Willie E. Pryor, two well-loved residents of Ferriday who recently died, will be honored with a proclamation at the next meeting.

– Complaints regarding excessive force and unnecessary insults by police officers were heard. FPD assistant chief Johnnie Evans said every complaint is investigated, and all complaints must be submitted in writing and signed.

– The stray dog problem in Ferriday was also on the meeting agenda. The board decided to call former Concordia Animal Welfare Shelter Director Lisa Smith to the next meeting to discuss solutions.

“There are more dogs than people in Ferriday,” McGlothin joked. “Maybe it’s something in the water.”

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