By Jordan Bankhead, Recovering Lawyer, Serial Entrepreneur, and Victim of the Velvet Ditch
Great news to report from the Board of Aldermen delegation’s recent trip to Washington, DC! According to Alderman Jason Bailey, Oxford will be receiving $10 million in new federal funds for local projects. Bailey, the mayor, and Bart Robinson, Oxford’s Chief Operating Officer, met with Mississippi’s congressional delegation, and Sharon Sartor, program manager with the Army Corps of Engineers. The fruits of these meetings were the $10 million in money pledged for projects ranging from new roundabouts at the Highway 7 and University Avenue exits to funds for Oxford’s watershed. Of course local and state funds will also have to be used to finance these projects, but the federal dollars certainly won’t hurt!
In addition to the exciting news from Washington, local matters were also discussed in two Board of Aldermen meetings. The October 4, 2022 meeting took 20 minutes and seemed unusually brief, but reviewing the City’s YouTube page (where Board of Alderman meetings are posted online) most meetings seem to take less than an hour. Since the meeting was so brief, the substantive portion was limited, the most interesting item being a proposed change to the sign ordinance by City Planner Ben Requet. Requet mentioned the city intends to ban permanent plastic corrugated signs and signs with posts protruding from the top of the sign. This was the first reading of the proposed ordinance change, so if you have an issue with the proposed sign ordinance, speak now or forever hold your peace.
The Mayor’s Report, as always, kicked off the meeting. The mayor mentioned it was an unusually busy weekend in Oxford as Kentucky came to town to face the Ole Miss Rebels. The inevitable complaints about the lack of infrastructure to support the invasion of our fair town on fall home football weekends at Ole Miss was mentioned. In Oxford’s defense, our roundabouts definitely help to ease congestion and our police do a fantastic job coordinating traffic compared with many other cities that host such large numbers. By contrast, my family and I traveled to see Garth Brooks in Branson, Missouri, that same weekend and it took two hours to get into the concert, others missed the concert entirely, and some didn’t arrive home until 3:30 am! In this respect, our little city gets an A+ for how we handle large Ole Miss sporting events. A final vote was taken on the increase in solid waste fees (mentioned last month) and the aldermen voted unanimously to raise garbage rates with one abstention from alderman John Morgan.
In addition to the October 4 meeting, the Board of Aldermen also met September 20. At that meeting, a resolution to make October 1 James Meredith Day in Oxford passed unanimously. October 1, 2022 marked the 60th anniversary of James Meredith, veteran, and first African-American student at Ole Miss, integrating the University of Mississippi at a time of racial division and civil rights activism in our country. After being denied admission by the State of Mississippi by telegram, Meredith appealed to the US Supreme Court, which granted him admission on September 10, 1962. Following Mr. Meredith’s admission, riots at Ole Miss killed 2 bystanders, injured 206 US marshals and soldiers, and led to the arrest of 200 rioters.
At the September 20 meeting Environmental Services Superintendent AmberLyn Liles reported tipping fees increased from $198 per load to $350 per load for transfer fees from Oxford to Pontotoc for the transportation of city trash! If it wasn’t time for Oxford to have its own dump capable of storing solid waste before, maybe it is now. Liles also mentioned an ordinance change banning habitual disposal of bulk trash like sofas and mattresses. City Engineer Reanna Mayoral also reported a new city swimming pool proposal at Stone Park is in the works. A study of the project’s cost is ongoing and the design stage will follow. Mayoral also reported the Brittany Woods connector road project will soon be underway and grants for city water and sewer enhancements for recently annexed systems are in progress.