City pays $85,000 a year for Titan Tire security

Published 12:45 am Sunday, June 24, 2018

NATCHEZ — Natchez currently pays approximately $85,000 a year to secure its building formerly operating as Titan Tire.

Even though no business has occupied the facility for 17 years, city officials have said the security measures are a necessary caution to prevent intruders.

“Somebody could go in there and live, like a homeless person, and get hurt,” Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said. “Also, we don’t want anybody in there stealing, like copper piping and copper wiring and other materials that can be salvaged.”

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The property has been empty since 2001 and for the past year has been the subject of an ongoing lawsuit, in which the City of Natchez is trying to either reclaim equipment Titan Tire took with it after closing down or get Titan Tire to assume liability of the property altogether.

Once Titan Tire’s lease officially expired, the city then needed to assume the responsibility of securing the old plant. In June 2017, the city entered into an agreement with local company Dawson Security and Investigation Services for a total of $6,480 a month — the actual monthly totals have varied between $6,600 and $7,900, City Clerk Megan Edmonds said.

A month ago, the city re-upped on that deal on a month-to-month basis this May.

While Grennell said he would happily consider an arrangement where someone would use the facility so the city could stop paying for the security, that has not panned out to date. He had plans for the facility to house the offices of the city’s new garbage hauler, Arrow Disposal Services Inc., which would have alleviated the city’s need to pay for security.

Those plans, however, came to a screeching halt when residents in the area voiced an opposition to that possibility. Those residents primarily opposed the idea of having the garbage trucks going through their neighborhoods and also had environmental concerns, though Grennell said the latter would not have been an issue.

Regardless, with no current tenant, what remains in the building would be left vulnerable without security measures.

“That happens, when you have an empty building, that someone will go in and begin to steal and rob the place,” Grennell said.

On top of the aforementioned materials inside the building, some business furniture or other antiques such as framed pictures still remain in the idle facility, Dawson Security supervisor Sgt. Lois Jones said.

The company’s owner, Robert Dawson, said since his group has been there, they have not had any real issues with break-ins, as he has several guards on duty at all times, and whoever works the front gate is under strict orders not to let any unauthorized personnel through.

“A guard is on that gate 24/7,” Dawson said.

The remaining guards are required to make rounds of the property every 30 minutes, Jones said.

Despite not having any real attempted break-ins, Dawson and Jones said, people will occasionally try to talk their way into the building.

Jones said in one bizarre instance earlier this month, someone tried to claim that they had a sledgehammer thrown over the fence and that they needed to come in to get it back.

“Never found it,” Jones said with a smile.

Although Dawson said he made his price intentionally low so he could get the contract, Grennell still said he would be open to any sort of ideas that would save the city from paying those thousands of dollars a month.

But as it stands, Grennell said he sees no immediate solution.