by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher

In what has historically been a perfunctory first meeting of a new Mayor and Board of Alderman, Pass Christian’s initial was anything but that. A packed house of Pass residents attended the inaugural meeting of the new Board held on Tuesday, July 6, 2021.

Usually these meetings are full of ordinary matters such as reaffirming their oath of office, reappointing Department Heads, transferring signatories and other such routine matters, however, this meeting was chock full of citizen complaints about flooding and drainage issues throughout the city.

In fact, these complaints weren’t even on the agenda but were brought up during the Public Comments portion of the meeting. In response to the recent large amount of rain experienced all along the Mississippi Gulf Coast,  a handful of residents rose to express their concerns about the lack of effective drainage which is causing major flooding throughout the City.

Acting Public Works Director Larry Pavolini explained that the main problem lies with being able to keep the City ditches free of debris and silt.

He stated that with his small crew and other work projects, they haven’t been able to clean the ditches for at least 7 months.

Ward 4 Alderman Victor Pickich stated that the optimum plan for dealing with the flooding problems was to have a recurring plan to clean the ditches on a regularly scheduled basis. He said you could start on either the East or West side of town and work back and forth to keep our ditches clean so they can provide the drainage that they are deigned for.

Ward 3 resident Halle Ricketts asked for the City’s plan to address the ongoing flooding problems. Several options were discussed, hire the Public Works Director soonest and have them develop a plan, add workers and new equipment to the Public Works Department and/or contract ditch cleaning out to a commercial contractor.

After a somewhat lengthy discussion, it was decided that all options would be researched and evaluated by the City. The other issue noted was how option two or three would be funded?

The current budget does not include funding for clearing ditches so the City will have to determine how this work will be funded.

On  the flooding on Menge Avenue, Ward 1 Alderwoman Betty Sparkman and Larry Pavolini drove around the area that recently had a great deal of flooding.

With the assistance of Menge Avenue residents Jerry and Glenda Halford, a second  ditch was discovered that was completely blocked up and was preventing the water from properly draining away from the street.

The City had been unaware of this second ditch so it wasn’t on their list of ditches to be cleaned.

Pass resident and former Pass Christian Mayor Ted Lawyer rose and stated that he noticed that the City was not flying the new State flag. He commented, “If you want to be inclusive, that is the best way to be there. The flag invites people into the City.”

Lawyer concluded by saying, “if you want to do something for our City and make it grow and be fair and open and invite everybody, fly the flag.”

The City responded that new State flags had already been purchased by the City and Mayor Jimmy Rafferty added, “it will be flown as soon as it’s practical…it will be done!”

Reappointments included Lewie “Skip” Negrotto as the City Court Judge, Bradley W. Rath as City Court Judge Pro Tem, Raymond Lee “Ed” Edwards as the City Court Prosecutor, Daniel Coker & Bell with Ryne Hand assigned as the City Court Appeals Prosecutor and City Court Prosecutor Pro Tem and also Stephen Simpson as City Court Prosecutor Pro Tem.

Approved use of taxpayer dollars included a $2,000 donation to the Pass Christian Police Officer Reserves to help defray costs of volunteers; $6,769.46 to cover Lateral Transfer Firefighter Recruitment Reimbursement expenses to the City of Diamondhead; $160,684 to K&G Crane and Marine Service for installation of wood fillers in the Pass Christian Harbor; $36,017.25 for an unmarked 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe for the Police Department and $227,176.93 in Claims Docket expenses.

The City accepted donations to the Police Department in the amounts of $325 from the Pass Christian Rotary Club to buy a battery for the department’s drone and $250 from the Mississippi Constables Association.

No action was taken on renaming City Hall and the paving of Lynn Circle as the original projected costs have skyrocketed from the original estimated cost of $40,000..

The next meeting of the Pass Christian Mayor and Board of Aldermen is scheduled for Tuesday, July 20, 2021, 6 p.m. at City Courtroom/Auditorium.