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Caledonia Aldermen Establish Christmas Committee, Agree to Mineral Lease

At the Caledonia Board of Aldermen’s December 4 meeting, the board heard a request for next year’s Christmas decorations, granted a mineral lease, discussed some needed water line improvements and briefly discussed hiring a park director.  Resident Judy Pounders asked that the town form a Christmas decoration committee for next year’s holiday season, and that she be appointed chairman.  “I would love to decorate the town next year,” she said.  “I want to start at the park and go to the red light, and then go from Calvert’s to the church.

That would cover any way people come into our town.  People could do their own homes if they want to, and I want to do like what I do at the school.  I think it would be wonderful if we used books as the theme.  That would cover every Christmas theme, every religion and every source of Christmas.  You could choose the book that you wanted…we could have churches come in and decorate the vacant lots, if they could get permission.  And I would be the boss.  I love to be the boss!  “We would need volunteers, and I think I already have a good many from the school,” she said.  “We need the community to support us with it, and I would like to speak to local businesses.  The reason I’m asking now is that local businesses might have leftover decorations they could donate to us.  I would also need storage space, because my husband says nothing else can go in the attic.  He seems to think the attic is full.  “I think decorations would do a lot for our hometown feeling,” she added.

The board unanimously gave Pounders permission to form a committee.  Foster Kennedy, speaking on behalf of Fletcher Petroleum Corporation, asked for a mineral lease on a parcel of land owned by the town and located behind the Shop and Save grocery story.  “Caledonia has a small lot, it’s about 50×65, I think it was purchased in 2011,” Kennedy said.  “We would like to ask for an oil and gas lease.  We would pay $100 as a fee to lease it for a three-year term, with a one-sixth return for the town if we find anything.  We are drilling horizontal wells, it’s a new technology.  Hopefully we’re going to have some success.”

The town unanimously approved the lease with little discussion on a motion from Quinn Parham and a second from Brenda Willis.  Water Superintendent Benny Coleman asked for permission to modify a water line near the intersection of Freeman Road and Old Honnoll Mill Road.  “There’s a ravine there, and about 20 or 25 feet of 4-inch water line is exposed,” Coleman explained.

“The line is sagging about six inches, and we need to bore a new channel through the ravine so that it’s not suspended like that.  If we don’t, we’re going to have some problems there.  I called Perma Corps, because we don’t have the equipment to repair it or to do the bore.  We’re projecting about $4,500 in cost.”  “How deep is it?” Parham asked.   “That ravine is about 20 feet deep,” Coleman said.  “The line is about 15 feet below the road level.”  “Can you not put a steel casing in?  You do that across creeks and stuff,” Parham said.  “You can, but when you do that you’re taking a chance of a freeze,” Coleman said.  “How long has it been like that?  It hasn’t froze yet,” said Mayor George Gerhart.  “I can’t answer that questions,” Coleman said.  “I just noticed that it was like that.  As erosion gets worse, more pipe’s going to be exposed.”  The board tabled the issue.  Gerhart asked Alderman Mike Savage about progress on a park director’s position.  Savage reported that he had worked with the Stennis Center for Government to develop a job description, but didn’t have it with him because the issue was not on the agenda.

“We need the position if we can find the money for it, but we didn’t budget to hire anyone because we had a $20,000 shortfall on gas,” Savage said.  “I’ve looked around at other programs our size, and they have salaries between $18,000 and $30,000 a year.  I’m going to estimate that we’d have to pay around $25,000 because it’s definitely going to be a full-time job.”  Gerhart said they would take the issue up again next month. In Other Business, the Board:

• Scheduled their January meeting for Wednesday, January 2, at 6 p.m.  Meetings are normally the second Tuesday, but the second Tuesday in January is New Year’s Day.

• Appointed Rachel Cannon as the “superparent” for the Safe Routes to Schools Grant.

• Approved the formation of a Mayor’s Youth Council.

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