Caledonia Mayor Mitch Wiggins speaks with Columbus Exchange Club members Tuesday at Lion Hills Center. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
November 3, 2017 10:54:10 AM
It may have taken Caledonia an extra month to elect its new mayor and board of alderman, but Mitch Wiggins said much has happened in the roughly 90 days since the new town administration took over.
Wiggins won the mayor's race by a single vote, while three new aldermen were elected in the town's July 18 election. The original election, held on June 6, was thrown out because of ballot box improprieties.
Thursday, Wiggins outlined the progress the town is making at the Columbus Exchange Club's meeting at Lion Hills Center.
"On the national and state level, you have the state of the nation and state of the state addresses," Wiggins said. "I guess I'm here today to give the state of Caledonia address."
Wiggins noted the town has made several important moves over the past 90 days.
"We've established a park commission to run our park," Wiggins said. "This is new for us. Before, the park was managed by the town aldermen, who meet once a month. But the park has grown so much that the day-to-day operations need more than one meeting a month. We think this will really help us going forward."
Work at Ola J. Pickett Park continues as the town moves toward the completion of its soccer complex.
"Phase One is finished," Wiggins said. "That involved building the restrooms and a nice concession stand area. We're working now on getting a grant for Phase 2 which will be for the lighting and finishing the fields."
The mayor noted the Caledonia area continues to grow with several new businesses moving into town, including a floral design shop, a branch bank and the expected arrival of a new medical clinic, which is due to open in January.
Wiggins said the town has taken measures to address growth, including adopting building codes and revisiting the subject of annexation, an idea the previous administration considered but ultimately tabled.
"Our code ordinance will be finalized at our next (aldermen) meeting," Wiggins said. "We sent a formal request to the county supervisors to use their current codes and inspection process. Prior to this, Caledonia was the only community not to be under building codes. With all the new construction, the codes are needed. Really this is something that should have been done years ago. So we're going to get it started."
Likewise, the mayor said aldermen recognize the opportunities presented by the growing population just outside the city limits.
"Several years (ago), we considered annexation," he said. "I was a board member at the time and we decided to hold off. There was some concern over the size of the area we were considering. The cost/benefit analysis made it hard to justify at the time.
"This time, we're looking at a smaller area," he added. "I think the previous plan would have added about 500 residents. This plan will bring in about half that number of people. We think it will be a win-win for everybody."
Wiggins said the town also wants to pursue a Main Street Association in the coming months while continuing to work with the Golden Triangle Development LINK and the Mississippi Development Authority to bring in a small-to-mid-sized factory, employing 100 to 150 people.
"I think the town has made a lot of progress since the election," Wiggins said. "And there's a lot more we want to do. Things are going pretty well."
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is email@example.com.
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