January 8, 2013 10:20:21 AM
In February, city engineer Edward Kemp will present the Starkville Board of Aldermen a capital improvement plan intended to take the city through the next two to three years.
"We'll address some drainage issues, roadways and probably even some sidewalk-type projects as well," Kemp said. "I am sure the board will want to provide some feedback, but whatever is accepted by the board will be the framework for this summer and the next couple years."
Kemp is excited about the direction the city is moving, but he and other city officials agree that the steps taken to get here, specifically in the past year, have been big ones.
For Kemp, the most noticeable change is one in his own office. Despite reservations by some Starkville aldermen, the board approved a motion in December to restructure the building, codes and planning department, combining it with the engineering department and hiring a director to oversee operations.
"Really, we basically rolled four divisions into one," Kemp said. "It kind of makes it more development friendly from an efficiency standpoint, a one-stop shop where you can come and find out info about developments or project processes in the city."
The city is currently advertising for the department head. In the interim, chief administrative officer Lynn Spruill is acting as director.
"I don't think we will take full advantage of it before (the new director) comes on board," Kemp said. "When that person comes in, though, they are really going to help unify all those divisions."
Kemp said he is wrapping up work on the Louisville Street widening project, which was supposed to be completed early last fall.
"That was definitely our biggest project," he said. "I think it is already transforming that area, though, and eventually will transform that side of town. We're just glad we could finally finish it."
Mayor Parker Wiseman agreed.
"The additional road capacity and extra sidewalk in that area is such a big improvement," he said. "With the school and all those businesses, it makes it so much more safe."
In the Electrical Department, Manager Terry Kemp and the rest of his staff are buzzing of the completion of the first phase of a fiber optic cable ring around Starkville. The main function of the fiber optic infrastructure will be electronic meter reading for the department, but the network offers the several other benefits.
"Once you get your backbone in, you can hang all different types of applications on it," Wiseman said. "Within the next month, we should go live with downtown wi-fi, and we intend on continuing to invest in that infrastructure."
A fiber optic network also opens up the door for centralized traffic control and camera use.
Not only has the city worked on connecting its residents, but protecting them as well.
Wiseman bragged on both the Starkville Police Department and the Starkville Fire Department for their individual achievements over the past year.
The SPD achieved CALEA Accreditation, making them only the sixth jurisdiction in the state to receive the honor. The department was tested on 192 categories during an on-site assessment in June and was also asked to meet 11 state requirements before being awarded the accreditation.
With the SFD's fire protection rating improving to a Class 4, Starkville is one of three cities in the state that can claim police and fire departments with such high honors.