Compact proposed for greater strength among cities

It is said that there is strength in numbers and Memphis metropolitan mayors, including Southaven’s Darren Musselwhite, believe it is time to consolidate their strengths when it comes to appealing for project money to help cover infrastructure improvements that benefit the entire Mid-South.

Musselwhite presented the plan, which right now is being called the Tri-State Compact Agency, to the Southaven Board of Aldermen Tuesday evening. 

The mayor pointed out that projects, such as the widening of I-55 at Church Road, are topics he continues to ask about at the federal and state level, so far with few results. 

“It’s like the state feels we’re the ‘Orange County’ of Mississippi,” Musselwhite said. “They think we have all of the money.”

But the metropolitan Council of Mayors, a group of all the city mayors in the Mid-South metro area, is considering the compact to provide some extra interstate punch in requesting that projects be done to the benefit of the entire region.  

Musselwhite told the board he would soon be coming to them to ask that the City contribute $8,000, the city’s pro rata share by population, of a $150,000 charge for a consultant to help start the agency, form a board of directors and begin the work of more strongly representing the entire Mid-South. 

Anything the compact approves would have to get the entire agency approval, as well as the nod from the individual tri-states, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi representatives.  

The City of Memphis and Mayor Jim Strickland, when the plan was first floated, immediately stepped up to pledge half of that $150,000 price tag.  

Musselwhite believes the compact would benefit Southaven and the Mid-South at the same time. 

“This provides another avenue in the Mid-South area to solve problems,” Musselwhite said. “It has worked in other parts of the country and we need to get smart. We need to start thinking that there’s more than one way to achieve the needs that we have that are not being met now.”

No immediate action was taken on what Musselwhite provided as an informational item in his Mayor’s Report.  

NUISANCE PROPERTY ORDINANCE PASSED: Aldermen went ahead Tuesday and passed a nuisance property ordinance, addressing what Musselwhite said was a top priority for him to fight crime and blight.  

“There is an abundance of properties and rental properties right now where owners are not maintaining the property and are not taking the accountability and ownership of what occurs on the property,” the mayor said. “In the last few years, we’ve had some situations where not only is it a property condition issue, it becomes a criminal issue as well.”

With the ordinance, any property with a combination of three criminal convictions or code violations in a 12-month period would be in violation of the ordinance, be subject to a $1,000 fine and other penalties that could include revoking the certificate of occupancy for the property. 

The ordinance had been a topic of discussion at a recent special session the Board of Aldermen held with Musselwhite.    

“I feel like this is one of our top priorities in the city to be proactive,” Musselwhite said. “We have to be creative in how we fight crime, it’s a different era than it was 10 years ago or longer in the past.”

FOOD TRUCK FRIDAYS: Starting Friday, Oct. 8, your lunch break could be in front of a food truck, either at Snowden Grove Park or at the Southaven Arena.  

Aldermen Tuesday night approved the concept and fee schedule for what is being called, “Food Truck Fridays.”

Vendors with food trucks can apply at the city clerk’s office, pay a permit and rental fee, and set up at either of the two locations, the parking lot at the Arena or the Springfest paved lot in front of the BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove.  

Musselwhite said he’s seeing the popularity of food trucks across the country and wants to bring some of that to Southaven.  

“We want to make it one day a week and we don’t want to compete with our brick-and-mortar restaurants,” Musselwhite pointed out. “We understand that some of our brick-and-mortar restaurants also do food trucks, so we think it will be good.”

Vendors with vehicles meeting the definition of a food truck are welcome to come and pick a spot when they apply and then set up to sell their delicacies for the five-hour period each week. There is a $100 permit fee and a $25 per week rental fee, although vendors can save money by committing for a month at $75 for the month.  

“I think it will be a good new tradition for our city,” Musselwhite said. “We have a limit on the number of locations we can facilitate at both locations. The food trucks will pick the location they want to go to and if one location is full we’ll communicate that to them and they can go to the other location.”

IN OTHER ACTION… The Board approved the naming of a park on Guthrie Drive near Airways Blvd. as Hal Guthrie Park, for the man who developed that part of the city. While the park already had a name, there was no sign labeling it as such, and in discussions about the park, it was decided naming it after Guthrie would be an appropriate recognition of his generosity and service to the city.  

Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite presents (from left) Ginger Britt and Nita Thompson with the Daughters of the American Revolution a proclamation for Constitution Week. (Bob Bakken/DeSoto County News)

The City recognized the week of Sept. 17-23 as Constitution Week and a proclamation to that effect was presented to members of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Ginger Britt and Nita Thompson.  

“The Constitution was written for a reason, to protect our liberties in this country, and it’s not good enough for one person here and there to stand up for that,” Musselwhite said in making the presentation. “We need every American to stand up and be an American, and remind people that the people that drew the Constitution did it for a reason. What happened in 1787, the goals they were trying to achieve, still apply in 2021.”  

New deputy city clerks were sworn into office as Ashley Ford and Nicole Hilario were given the oath of office for those positions.  

City officials will be advertising for bids to construct a welcome sign, similar to the signs erected at other entrances to the city, at a spot on Getwell Road at Stateline Road.  

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