Aldermen, city offer support to SCEDP
By Jody O'Hara
Jan 11, 2013, 09:50
The Wiggins Board of Aldermen, along with Mayor Jerry Alexander, adopted a resolution last Wednesday expressing support for the Stone County Economic Development Partnership.
The resolution reads, in part: " . . . the City of Wiggins, Mississippi, pledges its support to the Stone County Economic Development Partnership and those directors who give their time and energy in promoting the economy of Wiggins and Stone County, Mississippi."
It was welcome news to those serving on the SCEDP executive committee.
"It's a really nice gesture on their part," said board president Laura Owen. "They didn't have to do that and we are pleased to receive the support of our elected officials in the city."
Owen had been perturbed recently when the Stone County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution asking the state legislature to amend the senate bill which created the SCEDP in order to change the makeup of the board of directors.
Ward 2 Alderman Gene Alexander said the SCEDP had been founded by citizens concerned with economic development and should not fall under the purview of a governmental body.
"It's not a government entity and it's not to be controlled by the county or the city," he said.
Mayor Jerry Alexander praised past work by the SCEDP and said the city by itself could not pull off what that organization handled.
"Pine Hill Festival and all those parades, they take care of all that," he said. "Besides, we need economic development and it doesn't need to be controlled by one board with controlling votes."
That last statement concerned the supervisors proposal that there be five members representing that board and three members representing the aldermen with two non-voting members comprising the SCEDP board.
District 3 Supervisor Lance Pearson said he didn't think the aldermen understood how upset county residents are with the state of affairs at the SCEDP since an embezzlement scheme came to light last month.
"They haven't been getting the phone calls I've been getting, then," he said. "I've got to support the people who elected me."
District 1 Supervisor Joseph Davenport and District 2 Supervisor Daniel Harris said they both support the SCEDP but changes need to be made.
Nobody at the city has denied the need for those changes, they just seem to be requesting a good, hard look be taken at the changes before they're made.
"The organization was founded by individuals, not by the county or the city and I think government should be kept out of it," said Alderman-at-Large Joel Miles. "Changes obviously need to be made but we have an opportunity to fix things and fix them right and forever.
"We need to take some time and not have a knee-jerk reaction."
Efforts are under way to organize a meeting between the SCEDP, the Board of Supervisors and the Board of Aldermen.
It is hoped State Senator Tony Smith and State Representatives Doug McLeod and Timmy Ladner can also be in attendance at said meeting.
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