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Gary Chesser: Starkville's city hall




Last week, I had an opportunity to tour Starkville''s city hall. This subject has been given so much ink and consideration already that folks may very well be uninterested in more of the same. I can''t remember talking to anyone who does not feel that something needs to be done... but what? It''s hard for me to believe that anyone who takes the time to go through the facilities allocated to the Police Department and Municipal Court could walk away without feeling sad for the people who have to work under those cramped conditions and a bit fearful. I won''t try to list all of the problems that I saw, others have done that. The Police Department and Municipal Court are in the greatest need for space. 


All safety and access issues should be of major concern so code compliance is a big issue. However, I kept thinking about just fire the protection part of code compliance. There is no sprinkler system. That by it''s self may not solve the risk of loosing vital records stored in the old armory era stage area in the back of the building. If fire broke out, records from all of the departments are at risk. This is an old building with questionable electrical systems which have failed, according to my tour guide, "with sparks flying" before. The records are not digitized and archived, I was told that they had considered contracting the job out, but, of course, money was not available. 


I don''t know all of the facts and my suggestion was a very simplistic one, but I suggested that the task should have been started already even if they had to purchase equipment and software and ask for volunteers from the citizenry instead of some huge outside contract. Of course, we can always wait for an abundance of tax dollars which are not being fought over and see that as a priority, THEN. Is the risk of losing all of the City''s vital records less problematic than some other needs? I was awed that this process had not been started already. 


City departments have been waiting for all of this to be solved in one big project. How it was handled by the last administration was, obviously, less than effective. After three failed attempts, we''ve another opportunity and a greater need to solve the problems. I''m encouraged that the Municipal Complex Citizens Committee (Version IV) led by Dr. Roy Ruby are willing to take this on with as fresh a look as can be expected.  


I encourage the citizens of Starkville to contact this committee and make their comments and suggestions known. There is a way to comment and follow some of the other ideas on line at StarkvilleNow. It''s editor, Robbie Coblentz, is on this new committee and I believe that he would appreciate citizen''s input. Other members of this committee are: Frank Chiles; Bill Webb; Eric Heiselt; Emil Lovely; Nick Wilson; Bethany Stich; Walter Williams. 


With the economy in the tank and our local public debt as high as it is, shouldn''t we be calling for austerity measures as well as a more business friendly and less progressive control approach to local government.  


I may be naive, but I even think that this committee will take a very close look at suggestions and welcome participation in their public meetings. If not, then there may be a Version V. 


Gary Chesser 





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