WINONA – The Winona Board of Aldermen voted to appoint Ickret Bennett to a seat vacated on the Winona-Montgomery Consolidated School Board by Tonny Seals in July. According to an opinion by the Mississippi Attorney General’s office, Bennett will serve out Seals’ current term, which expires on December 31, 2018.
Winona Mayor Jerry Flowers presented the option to the board after speaking with Bennett.
“He has kids in the school, and he said he would be willing to serve for the next few months,” Flowers said.
Alderwoman Sarah Minnieweather also made a suggestion for the seat, but the board voted unanimous to appoint Bennett, behind an Alderman David Ware motion.
In November, county voters, outside the city limits of Winona, will elect two school board members, and they will take office on January 1. Seals’ seat will become one of the elected seats.
Currently, qualifying is underway for the school board election, however, as of press time Wednesday, no candidate had qualified.
The deadline for qualifying is September 7 at 5 p.m. To qualify, candidates must get at least 50 signatures of qualified electors (registered voters) in the voting district.
In other city business:
• Winona Chief of Police Tommy Bibbs informed the board that he is starting a Special Response Team at the Winona Police Department to deal with emergency situations and threats to public safety.
“Me and [Mayor Jerry Flowers] have been talking about this for a long time,” Bibbs said. “The safety of the citizens of Winona are of great importance to the mayor as well as the kids at school.”
Bibbs said he and Flowers are organizing with the federal government to hold classes for the Winona Police Department, the Winona Fire Department, [Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency], schools and churches to how to handle a threat to public safety or other emergency situations.
Bibbs said the officers selected to serve on the Special Response Team were selected by scores on firearm re-certification by all officers at the Winona Police Department.
The board of aldermen also gave their approval for Bibbs to begin seeking grant funding for equipment for the team.
“It costs around $3,500 to outfit one officer,” Bibbs said. “There is another $17,000 needed to purchase equipment for the team.”
Bibbs said the team will consist of seven to 10 officers from the Winona Police Department.
• Alderman Kelvin Winbush asked the board to table a request for a speed bump on Greensboro Street until he can assist the need and placement of the speed bumps. Chief of Police Tommy Bibbs has increased patrol on Greensboro, and residents say that has helped with speeding. However, it has not alleviated the problem.
Winbush said he would delve into the matter further and report back to the board.
• The board tabled two bids submitted for the construction of the new walking trail at the Winona Recreational Park on Highway 82. The lowest bid came in at $205,500. The city received a grant of $150,000 from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks, with the city providing a $30,000 match. If the board elects to approve the bid, the city will be required to ante up $85,000 for the asphalt, nearly-one-mile track circling the Winona Recreational Park.
The board elected to table the bids to see if the engineer could reduce the length of the track to help with the cost of the project.