An effort to clean up vacant lots in Clarksdale saw money put on the table this week with the Mayor and Board of Commissioners voting to hire contractors to help demolish, haul away and level dilapidated houses in the community.
The city has a list of 35 properties it will clean up and has plans to clear another 21. Plans could blossom to 100 lots cleaned up this fall and summer if the city goes back to grade and clear a number of lots where demolished houses have been removed.
The board voted to enter an agreement with Lamar Williams for hauling dirt and leveling property at the completion of demolition on 35 properties at a cost of $15,000.
The board also voted to obtain proposals for tree cutting services not to exceed $40,000.
The project is being spearheaded by Ward 1 Commissioner Bo Plunk, who is also seeking assistance from the National Guard for some of the work.
“The plan is (Jeff) Young to assist the city in tearing down the houses and haul it to the landfill,” said Plunk. “(Lamar) Williams will bring in fresh dirt, level it and make it smooth so we can cut it.”
The city has stopped and started clearing lots several times over the past few years and has even gotten grants to help in this process.
Plunk said the work will be advertised and anyone hired by the city must be licenses and bonded to protect the city. Plunk also asked for a list of lots in the city that needs to be addressed.
Monday’s votes appear to have the pushed the process to the top of the list and provided the funding to seek help to do the work.
The city also voted to enter a contract for individuals to cut grass
Mayor Chuck Espy said the city’s workforce has been tested and a number of workers sent home.
“I’m asking people to be patient and help out where you can,” said Espy. “If you want to complain about how the city looks, I want you to do what the mayor does. I get out on a regular basis and pick up the trash on Sasse and Bloom in my neighborhood. If your leaders won’t clean up how can we ask citizens to?”
In other business:
• The city appropriated $10,000 to develop a homeless shelter at the corner of Fifth and Yazoo Avenue. Espy said the shelter, will be a one-night shelter for a limited number of people but plans are to secure other funding to help solve the homeless crisis in Clarksdale.
• Acknowledge the Governor’s Executive Orders on the wearing of masks in public and at schools, and that person infected with COVID-19 must remain at home for 14 days.
Failure to obey the order of a health officer is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500 or imprisonment for six months. If a life-threatening disease is involved, it is a felony, punishable by a fine of $5,000 or imprisonment for up to five years.
• The city paid the following bills: Lillie Houston $ 2,250, Walton Student workers $ 10,440, Millicent Dixon $ 2,250, Chuck Espy (July) $ 264.50, General Fund $ 141,419.39, MS Development Authority $12,684.86, The Links $ 625, Neel-Schaffer $10,758.75, Amanda Dear Jones $1,000.
• Acknowledge the order requesting a tax levy from the Clarksdale Municipal School District.
• Acknowledge the CPI increase from Republic for garbage services.
• Set the budget hearing for 5:15 p.m. Aug. 24, at City Auditorium.
• Authorized the Mayor to execute three task orders on the Brownfield Grant: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment - Simmons Property; develop Brownfield resource roadmap; grant closeout.
• Mayor Espy reappointed Bubba O’Keefe to the Tourism Board.
• Accept the resignation of Alean Smith from the Library Board.
• The city entered executive session to discuss personnel issues, legal issues and status changes in the police department, public works, fire department and city clerk’s office.
• The city voted to meet again at noon Aug. 20, at the City Auditorium.