Duck Hill is throwing its hat into the ring for the impending $1.8 billion the State of Mississippi will receive from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the town is preparing to move from manually read meters to automated read meters.
City Engineer Joe Sutherland and Mayor Al White told the board and those in attendance, they have no idea how the money will be distributed or when, but they wanted to be in the running when it comes down the pipeline.
Sutherland said they’re not sure how the money would be divided, but they wanted Duck Hill’s name to be in the running. White said the list has been given to the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors and both area legislators.
White said that he and Sutherland sat down and went over the most important needs in Duck Hill, but they know that not everything is on the list.
“Joe sat down and did all that and I just did the pushing,” White said.
The two said that the total project for all of the projects is $4.7 million and the projects lined out are Main Street.
In another matter, the board is also moving forward with their automated meters project. Similar to the Kilmichael project, the town is advertising for an engineering firm.
Back in 2021, the town of Kilmichael approved an automated meter read project through a loan.
“Now, I won’t do the project for this one. This is a lot and I have a lot of water associations that I work with that are on me about grants and things. You can get the company that came down or you can get someone else,” Sutherland said.
White said the town would request proposals from engineers. Sutherland said the engineers would do the costs, and then the town would have to advertise for the construction work to install the meters.
During the meeting, the board hired Shemeka Grice, of Greenwood, as a part-time certified water and wastewater treatment supervisor. According to the Wastewater Operators list on the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s website, she holds a Wastewater Treatment Certification in Class II.
The town has been without someone since former Public Works Director Patricia “Sooky” Currington retired in November 2021.
Currington announced her retirement in July 2021, but stayed on to help Demming until she left in November.
The board had 180 working days to find someone to fill her position or they would not be in compliance with the Mississippi Department of Health or the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
“What all would it entail that you would be doing?” Alderwoman Shernell Everett said.
“Pull your water samples. You have quarterly samples that have to be pulled and you have monthly samples that have to be pulled, you have CCR (Consumer Confidence Reports) that are due to the health department and DMR (Discharge Monitoring Reports) that are due to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. Basically keep you in compliance with the health department and the DEQ,” Grice said.
She said her services would include two visits a week as well as pulling the samples once a month.
Board Attorney Adam Kirk told Grice she may have stated that in her proposal but it was a little unclear whether it was two times a week or two times a month.
“We thought it was two times a week but we weren’t sure,” Kirk said.
White said Grice would be on board temporarily as Duck Hill’s Public Works Director, while Ked Demming works on becoming certified in water and wastewater.
Grice said Demming would have to work under someone who is certified for two years. Demming has already fulfilled a year under Currington, and he would have to work a year under Grice.
“But, when he’s ready to take his test. He can take it whenever,” she said.
Board attorney Adam Kirk said the board needed to get someone in the position before their 180 days were up –which would have been in May – as soon as possible.
“And we were lucky to find her,” Kirk said.
The board unanimously approved to hire Grice, effective immediately.