Traffic flow in Yazoo City was significantly disrupted when Canadian National Railroad closed two major crossings for days without notice at the same time that traffic increased due to the new Walmart opening.
The railroad crossings at Fifteenth Street, one of the city’s busiest streets, and Twentieth Street were closed while the railroad made repairs. There was no public announcement that the crossings would be closed or for how long.
Mayor Diane Delaware said during the Mayor and Board of Aldermen meeting Monday that she doesn’t want it to happen again.
“It was a very difficult time,” Delaware said. “Walmart had just opened, and we were redirecting 10,000 cars.”
Delaware said that the lack of notification contributed to problems.
“We have spoken to the railroad, and they say that they will never do that kind of work again,” Delaware said. “They also say that they don’t know of any repairs that they’re going to have for the remainder of the year.”
Delaware said she wants Public Works Director Walter Williams to develop a relationship with Canadian National Railroad officials to improve communications in the future.
“For everyone who was inconvenienced, we apologize,” Delaware said. “We do thank Canadian National Railroad for actually repairing our crossings, because those repairs are necessary.”
In other business during Monday’s meeting:
n Board members agreed that garbage collection has improved since the city contracted with Waste Pro to begin collecting household garbage.
“I haven’t heard many complaints about the garbage,” Delaware said.
Ward 4 Alderman Aubry Brent Jr. said now that the garbage collection issue is improving, it’s time to focus on streets.
“We need to embark on a project to get our streets fixed,” Brent said.
Brent said he wants City Clerk Mario Edwards to determine how much bond capacity the city has in case the board decides to take on some bond debt to tackle the problems.
“If we don’t take that route, we need to do what the mayor has suggested, which is make a list of the streets in terrible condition, which most of them are,” Brent said. “I would like to see the streets of Yazoo City be our next major venture.”
n The city has purchased a van that will allow Public Works to transport inmate labor that will provide 10 inmates to do work for the city and for the Public Service Commission.
“It provides Yazoo City with 1,600 additional labor hours,” Delaware said.
Williams said the inmate labor with help with the operations of the street department because city employees will be able to focus on tasks that require more skill.
n Delaware said that the city is current seeking a director for the Triangle Cultural Center following the death of former director K.K. Hill. She said that operations at the Triangle have been going according to plan while the city seeks a new director.
“The advisory board has become much more involved and active, and I hear from them a lot now,” Delaware said. “I’m very pleased by that.”
Delaware said there has been some interest in the job.
“We do have at least one applicant for the job, and we ask those who live in Yazoo City who are interested in that job to look in the newspaper to find a job description,” Delaware said. “Submit your resume to us so that we can have new programs, grant writing and everything else that is needed at the Triangle.”
n Cemetery Sexton Prentiss Young said that Glenwood Cemetery will run out of room for new burial plots in the near future, and the city needs to have a plan.
n Safety Coordinator Danny Miller said that the city has had three claims filed on its insurance related to the same pothole.
Delaware said pothole repairs must improve in the city.
“These are not country roads,” Delaware said. “This is a municipality. We can’t have rocks flying around and hitting people’s windshields and things like that.”
n Municipal Court Clerk Mary Love Johnson reported that the city’s recent Amnesty Day programs that allowed people with outstanding traffic fines to settle up without additional penalties was nearly twice as successful as the previous year.
The city collected over $13,000 compared to a little over $7,000 the previous year.
n Brent said there are too many landlords in the city whose rental properties are in terrible condition.
“Some of them are strictly concerned about making a dollar and not concerned about whether or not their houses are being kept up,” Brent said.
Brent said he has seen rental properties with serious sewage problems.
“Russ (Carter) and I were out at one place where the owner didn’t have the sewage pipes hooked up,” Brent said. “People were living there, and the tenants were complaining because he was demanding rent without doing his part to keep the property up.”
Brent said the city needs to have the power to shut down rental properties when the owner fails to keep them up to code.