The Greenwood fire and police departments showed the City Council on Tuesday some new and familiar people who have joined their ranks.
Fire Chief Marcus Banks introduced Charles Cooley, who was promoted to fire marshal last month. Cooley, who has over 22 years of firefighting experience, thanked the council for the opportunity.
Previously the city’s fire marshal position was separate from the Fire Department, but the council approved a resolution earlier this year to merge that position back into the Fire Department.
Banks said Victor Stokes, formerly the city’s community development director, has joined the Fire Department as a deputy fire marshal.
In response to a question from Ward 6’s David Jordan, Banks said his department is about five firefighters short.
Capt. Terrence Craft, who’s in charge of recruiting for the Police Department, introduced three of the seven candidates who have recently been hired — Abigail Redmond, a detective sergeant, and Hollis Myrick and Tyauana Rucker, patrol officers.
The hiring process for police officers once took three to four months but has been shortened to about six weeks, Police Chief Jody Bradley said.
Craft said that since he took over recruiting last November, the department has recruited 26 officers.
Some have been lost along the application process, but otherwise the department is on “a good path to getting our numbers where we need to be,” he said.
Craft told Jordan that 10 to 12 officers still need to be hired to bring the department to full staff.
Also, the council approved a resolution to allow the police and fire departments to set up their own respective compensation plans outside of the city’s plan.
Without discussing specific figures, Banks and Bradley said that under the city’s current compensation plan, police officers and firefighters can’t immediately be given merit increases.
For example, Banks said that both a certified firefighter and a non-certified one would be given the same entry salary, although the certified firefighter would have more experience.
The proposed compensation plans for the two departments, which have not been finalized, would use the U.S. military’s rate of pay as a model by basing salary increases on a two-year plan, Banks explained. Under the current three-year compensation plan, both the police and fire departments are losing people, he said.
The departments will set up their compensation plans using their allotted payrolls, and the plans will go into effect Jan. 1.
The new compensation plans, Banks and Bradley said, will allow police officers and firefighters to be hired with a better salary rate from the start and be eligible for merit increases sooner. This would help recruit new first responders and retain current staff, Banks and Bradley said.
In other business:
• The council, at the recommendation of code enforcement officer Betty Stigler, approved demolishing several structures that are considered menaces to the public’s health and safety, including the former Delta Feed building, located at the corner of Main Street and Carrollton Avenue.
In April, the building’s south wall collapsed after a portion of the rotted roof gave way.
Stigler said that she had heard from the owner, Jenifer Jones Houston, as well as Houston’s father, several times that they intended to work on the property and have someone collect the old bricks. However, Stigler said, she hasn’t seen any work done on the building and parts of the damaged wall continue to cascade.
The historic building, which dates to the 1890s, once housed a business that sold garden and agricultural goods. It was also originally identified as one of four historic buildings that would have been part of Howard’s End, a proposed $8 million project that would create almost 37,000 square feet of commercial and residential space in downtown Greenwood. Plans for Howard’s End have been stalled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The other structures the council approved demolishing are located at 601 W. Market St., 101 Young St., 501 Ave. F, 103 E. Martin Luther Drive and 512 Ave. K.
• Mayor Carolyn McAdams reported that the city is operating all four of its trash trucks. Coronavirus infections among employees as well as a lack of staffing had delayed the city’s ability to pick up trash throughout the five routes.
• McAdams said the city will now pay $1.3 million back on a $40 million loan that was used to build the city’s wastewater treatment plant on Ione Street in 2012.
Originally, the city was on a 20-year repayment plan for the wastewater treatment plant, which meant it had to pay almost $3 million annually. Now that the loan has moved to a 30-year plan, the city will be able to add about $1.3 million back to its budget, McAdams said.
• The city has received a grant of almost $500,000 through the U.S. Department of Justice to enhance the adult drug courts and veterans treatment courts.
The city will use the money to pay Brown & Associates, a consulting service in Indianola, $25,000 each year for three years to act as a grant administrator, according to a resolution approved by the council.
• McAdams said that Gov. Tate Reeves has appointed her to serve on the State Workforce Investment Board. She said that the Delta needs a more aggressive approach to workforce development and that she is honored that the governor thought of her.
• Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or firstname.lastname@example.org.