According to Duck Hill attorney Adam Kirk, Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley is not advocating for the town to sell its natural gas line service to Atmos Energy.
During Monday’s regular meeting of the board, Alderwoman Shernell Everett wanted the board’s approval to investigate ways to keep the town’s gas system from being taken over by the state. This stemmed from a discussion last month about the Atmos wanting to buy the town’s gas system. None of the aldermen were in favor of selling the system.
Kirk said after the story was published in the Winona Times, Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley gave him a call.
Kirk said it was Presley’s position that he was not promoting anyone to take the gas system from Duck Hill.
“Which is a lot different from what we’ve been hearing from Atmos,” he said.
During the meeting last month, Kirk said the officials with Atmos told them it was something that Presley was pushing to happen.
But, Kirk said Presley told him that wasn’t the case at all and that Presley made it clear that he was not advocating for anyone.
“He said he felt it was in the town’s best interest to do it, but if y’all didn’t want to, that was fine,” Kirk said. “And, I told him that’s not what Atmos is coming and telling us.”
Kirk said Presley told him there was no framework to use imminent domain to take the town’s gas system. It belongs to the Town of Duck Hill, and it is theirs alone.
“He said they can’t take it unless we voluntarily agree to it,” he said.
Kirk told Everett he didn’t see a reason to investigate it, and that the town’s gas system was not in jeopardy of being taken over.
“I told you they couldn’t do it, Shernell; I told you they weren’t going to do anything,” Alderwoman Lula Brown said.
Gas Superintendent Frank Faulkner reported that the town is in compliance and the Public Service Commission can’t take the gas system unless they are not in compliance. He and City Clerk LaSonja Sizemore both reported that they haven’t received any complaints.
“And Atmos coming, that’s just like someone trying to buy a car. They’re going to keep coming back with a number,” Faulkner said.
Kirk told the board that they should be open-minded and that Atmos would probably continue to come to the town.
“If they offer us something and it’s too good to be true then we’ll know but, you don’t just shut the door on an opportunity,” he said. “And he was a really nice man. He was really nice about it.”
Also, water operator Sooky Currington announced her resignation at the board meeting. Currington retired earlier this year as the town’s Public Works Director, however; she remained as the water operator helping new Public Works Director Ked Demming.
Currington said although she’s enjoyed working with the board and for the Town of Duck Hill, she received an opportunity to enjoy her retirement and not be on call 24/7. Currington’s last day with the town is Nov. 4.
She explained to the board that they had 180 days to find a new water operator to be in compliance,but have to remain in compliance in those days. Mayor Al White asked about Demming being certified.
Currington said he has to go through the classes to be certified, but he must first get his vaccinations.
“They won’t let you take a class without having your shots,” she said.
She said after Demming is able to go through the classes, there’s a test he has to take and pass. Then, Demming must receive 48 hours on top of the classes. She said the classes are not online, they are in person.
In the meantime, Currington gave the town the names of Billy Mayfield and KT Newman. Newman also does work for the Town of Vaiden. She said Mayfield is with the Mississippi Rural Water Association, and Newman is with the National Rural Water Association.
Monday, was Currington’s last meeting.
Also, Alderman Chris Caldwell asked the board to advertise for a full-time position in the newspaper for more city workers.
“We only have one full-time worker,” Caldwell said.
He said the man works a lot and doesn’t really get breaks. He wanted the board to advertise and discuss raising the town’s minimum wage.
“The people I’ve talked to about the position won’t do it because of the pay. There’s no one that’s going to work for $7.25 anymore,” Caldwell said.
“They have to put in the application before they talk about money. You get hired, then you discuss pay. That’s just me, though. You don’t go in talking about the money, you get the job first. They have to apply first,” Alderwoman Lula Brown said.
“Seven is better than nothing,” Alderwoman Cynthia Brown-Kountz echoes.
Also, the board:
• Approved Slocum Construction, LLC., of Columbia to complete the paving project on North Main Street. City Engineer Joe Sutherland said he’s never dealt with Slocum personally, but have ran some references on them and heard they did good work.
• Approved for Duck Hill Headstart to hold a harvest festival on Oct. 23, Kountz abstained from the vote.
• Approved for the town to hold Trick-or-Treating hours on Saturday from 5:30 p.m. until 8.
• Approved for Chief Tyler Winter to attend training and terminate Officer Terry Crowder of his duties.