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Aldermen focus on infrastructure

 

Tim Pratt

 

STARKVILLE -- The Starkville Board of Aldermen concluded its retreat Friday night with a list of ways it hopes to improve city services and infrastructure over the next few years. 

 

A long-term goal would see the installation of sidewalks, curbs and gutters along an estimated 1.5-mile section of Highway 182 by Jan. 1, 2013. The state highway is scheduled for an overlay in 2013, a Mississippi Department of Transportation representative said last month, and aldermen hope to improve accessibility for pedestrians, as well. 

 

The roadway is riddled with potholes, has no sidewalks and is often used by visitors driving into the city. Aldermen have called the road an "eyesore." 

 

Another goal set by aldermen is to develop a long-term infrastructure-improvement plan, which would address issues such as water, sewer, utilities, storm water and drainage, as well as streets, over the next 10 years, the board said Friday. Aldermen hope to develop a long-range plan for consideration by June 30. 

 

But the board also set goals for this year. 

 

Aldermen hope to determine the need to re-establish the once-active infrastructure committee; evaluate current infrastructure policies, if any, to determine the need for amendments and additions; and take an inventory, and make a determination of, infrastructure needs in the section of city annexed from Oktibbeha County in 1998. 

 

City services also need to be improved, aldermen determined. 

 

The board hopes to evaluate the organizational structure and personnel in city departments to identify duplication of services, which could potentially lead to the reorganization of city departments. The group hopes to evaluate city departments by June 30th. 

 

One way to improve city services would be to establish and staff an IT department as part of the 2010-2011 budget process.  

 

An IT department not only would help improve the city Web site and assist with technical issues among city staff, but also would make information about city events and policies more easily accessible for citizens. 

 

The board also plans to analyze the need for an environmental services division and develop a unified procedure for service requests among aldermen and the public. 

 

Phil Hardwick, Coordinator of Capacity Development at the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University, led aldermen in the retreat over the last two weekends.  

 

Hardwick works on strategic planning and leadership development with municipalities all over the state, many of whom are led by officials who don''t get along nearly as well as the Starkville Board of Aldermen, he said Friday night after the retreat. 

 

"As your facilitator, I want to thank you for setting the bar," Hardwick said, commenting on the group''s willingness to work on weekends to improve the city. "Y''all are so refreshing from my standpoint." 

 

Mayor Parker Wiseman also was pleased with the progress made by aldermen and Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill. 

 

"I think you should be very, very proud of what you''ve done," Wiseman said to the group at the end of the retreat. "I think it''s going to serve us very well in the future."

 

 

 

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