Theft from Meadville town barn draws ire of officials

by Sean Dunlap

A reported theft of equipment from Meadville’s Public Works barn in May prompted an angry response from Mayor Lane B. Reed during the business meeting for town leaders held on Tuesday, June 14.

Reed said a saw, grass trimmer, blower, an extension cord and a gas can were taken — in broad daylight — while town workers were not present at the barn off Mississippi Highway 556.

“Since none of the items have hit the pawn shops, we think someone stole these things because they are using them,” Reed said. “To say this crime frustrates me greatly is an understatement because our town’s budget is tight.

“I hope they are caught because I personally want to sign the (criminal) affidavit and hope they actually go to jail.”

Reed went as far as to say he hoped every member of the Board of Aldermen would appear at Franklin County Circuit Court when a suspect is hopefully convicted in connection with the incident.

“There’s absolutely no reason for this kind of activity in our town because we try to do more for our community with less money every single day,” he continued. “What it boils down to is that this will cost us money we don’t have to replace those items, which are used by our workers every single day.”

Adding to Reed’s frustration is that he believes the town now has to look for dollars to purchase and install video surveillance cameras for the town barn to prevent future thefts.

“It’s a shame that we have to even consider buying cameras for the middle of Meadville, Mississippi, to prevent this kind of stealing,” he went on to say. “It’s somebody (allegedly) too lazy to work and buy their own equipment. I just hope we catch the person responsible.”

In the meantime, town officials confirm they are locking down the barn when municipal workers are not present in hopes of preventing thefts.

Reed said local law enforcement is continuing to pursue any and all leads that might bring an arrest in the case.

In other action, the five-member Meadville Board of Aldermen unanimously considered these items of business during the meeting:

• Voted to replace a 21-year-old malfunctioning roll-up door at the town’s fire station at a cost of $5,992. Quality Door, a company that has installed doors previously for the town, will provide the service.

• Approved a second pay requisition from Warren and Warren Asphalt Paving in the amount of $19,666.62 related to the resurfacing of Main Street, which was funded through a Small Municipalities and Limited Population Counties grant from the Mississippi Development Authority.

• Discussed the mandated inspection of Meadville’s above-ground water storage tanks, and accepted a quote from Dungan Engineering totaling $2,300 to provide the service.

• Gave approval to Atmos Energy for right-of-way permits to improve underground gas line infrastructure on Williams, Pineview and Walnut streets.

• Adopted an order to proceed in seeking a grant to purchase an auxiliary power plant and wiring to supply electricity to the town’s No. 3 water well in the event of a loss of regular power service.

• Approved foundation repairs to the town hall building in the amount of $3,524.66 that will be undertaken by Owen Holland and Sons.

• Authorized Melanie Harrell to once again serve as a municipal election commissioner.

• Voted to hire Les Hill to provide vegetation control spraying services in municipal stormwater drainage ditches.

• Ratified the town’s application to seek up to $5,000 in funding through the Justice Assistance Grant — also known as JAG — for the town’s police department.

• Approved the purchase of three crepe myrtles along Main Street — replacing two of which that died after utility work in the area and a third that was toppled during a recent thunderstorm — at a cost of $30 each.

• Discussed the town’s outstanding indebtedness as of the end of May. The town owes $8,505.91 on a Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality sewer loan and $66,996.41 on a United States Department of Agriculture water tank loan.

• Heard a report about replacing a two-ton air conditioning unit at town hall that is no longer working.

• Declared June as “National Dairy Month” in the town with an official proclamation issued for the observance.

The next business meeting for the Meadville Board of Aldermen is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 12 and is open to the public.