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City makes replacement hires for fire, recreation departments

NATCHEZ — City of Natchez officials approved replacement hires for the Natchez Fire Department and the recreation department during a special called meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen Thursday.

The move comes after the board last month had implemented a hiring and spending freeze.

Recreation Director Faye Minor requested permission to hire a part-time employee to work weekends as a clerk in the tennis pro shop at Duncan Park, which the board approved unanimously.

Minor said she currently has no one to man the shop on weekends after the shop reopened Monday this week.

“We will probably cut a person’s hours during the week so they can work the weekend and the shop can be open until we find someone else,” Minor said.

Minor said she would also be seeking the Mayor and Board of Alderman’s approval later on for a replacement for the former tennis instructor Henry Harris who retired on May 31.

Minor said Harris had worked on and off again as an instructor for 25 or more years.

Minor said the tennis courts are now open during daylight hours and the shop is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Also during Thursday’s special called meeting the board unanimously approved a request from Natchez Fire Chief Ventris Green for a replacement firefighter to fill a vacancy created when one of his firefighters resigned to move to Jackson.

“I have no concerns with a firefighter being hired, but Public Works has come to us with the same request and we have placed a freeze on all hiring,” Ward 4 Alderwoman Felicia Irving said during Thursday’s meeting.

Earlier this month the board had approved hiring 10 students to work part-time to assist the Public Works Department with duties such as grass cutting and picking up litter that had been traditionally been done by inmates, but since the COVID-19 pandemic no inmates were being used for the job, Public Works Director Justin Dollar had said.

During Thursday’s meeting, Irving said she was told that the Public Works department still needed to hire and train full-time employees to operate equipment and fill potholes.

“The reason it is so critical for the fire department to fill their vacancies is they need the manpower to save lives and property,” said Darryl Grennell, Natchez mayor. “Another reason is for the fire rating. … In the current pandemic we’re in, (without that position) it could have a devastating impact on homeowners in the City of Natchez with their insurance.”

Natchez City Attorney Bob Latham said the board couldn’t take any action in regards to public works because it was not on the agenda for Thursday’s special-called meeting.