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Columbus stunted by blighted areas, poor infrastructure

 

Devin Golden

 

Christina Berry became the permanent Columbus city planner only months ago, but she is pushing the city to fix issues she has identified. 

 

Berry plans to hold a mayor-council workshop later this month to discuss ways to improve the city's planning issues, she announced to the council at Tuesday's meeting. 

 

Columbus is on the brink of becoming "one of the best places in Mississippi to live," Berry said, but needs to fix certain issues. Those issues include population loss, blighted neighborhoods and poor infrastructure. 

 

"If you compare Columbus to other places, you see what the problems are. Other places are growing in population. The neighborhoods aren't blighted," she said. 

 

Berry praised Columbus' culture and downtown but classified some inner-city neighborhoods as needing improvement. 

 

"All over (the city), property values are actually going down," she said. 

 

The workshop is scheduled for Jan. 18 at 10 a.m. at the Trotter Convention Center. The public can attend the workshop, but Berry said "the focus is for the mayor and council." 

 

Berry's goal for the workshop is to begin prioritizing some projects that she has planned. 

 

"One of the things is adopting a capital improvement plan that identifies all major problems in the city, along with the cost to fix those problems and the funding to fix them whether from a grant or other source," Berry said. 

 

 

 

In other matters, the council: 

 

  • Unanimously approved hiring a director of training and an animal control officer, with both hires contingent on successful completion of pre-employment drug screens and physicals. Human Resources Director Pat Mitchell declined to release the names, noting the prospective new hires might not have turned in notices of resignation at their current jobs. 

     

  • Unanimously authorized Mayor Robert Smith to sign a resolution for the 2011 Emergency Public Facilities Grant. If awarded, the $100,000 grant will be used to repair drainage in East Columbus. 

     

  • Unanimously approved a request to change the status of the part-time drug court coordinator to full time. The full-time position will be funded through a $75,000 drug court grant the city received. 

     

  • Heard an announcement from Lowndes County District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks that the Sim Scott Community Center, in the city limits, will be open to the public soon. Brooks previously has been critical of slow construction.

     

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