The Metropolis City Council began its only December meeting on Monday, Dec. 13, with a moment of silence in reflection for those devastated by the Dec. 10 tornado.
Mayor Don Canada noted a couple of trips have been made to the Mayfield area with supplies. Fire Chief Micah Tolbert said the Metropolis department and Massac County Emergency Management took more than 20 cases of water and other supplies on Saturday.
The Metropolis Fire Department is currently the drop site for residents to take donations for the tornado victims. Food, cleaning supplies and diapers are among the items being requested.
Police Chief Harry Masse said he spoke to Graves County Sheriff Jon Hayden on Monday afternoon. Hayden requested no used clothing be donated as there is no place to wash it. Masse added that donations are being collected at the Graves County Fairgrounds where they will be distributed throughout Graves County.
“Pictures don't do it justice,” Tolbert said of the damage. “You go in, the road splits off. Everything looks fine until you go over that hill, and it looks like a bomb went off. It's heartbreaking.”
Eastland Life Baptist is also collecting items at 716 E. Third St. Ward 2 Alderman Brian Anderson noted, “Marshall County is begging for help.”
Robinson Transportation is holding a “Stuff the Bus” from 6:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. through Friday, Dec. 17, at 327 Fairgrounds Road, Metropolis. Those in charge of that relief effort suggest water, cleaning supplies, toiletries, diapers, wipes, blankets and snacks.
Ward 4 Alderman Chad Lewis was absent from Monday's meeting.
Under business, the council:
• Adopted an ordinance authorizing the sale or other disposition of personal property of the city of Metropolis. City counsel Rick Abell said this is LESO equipment from the police department.
• Adopted an ordinance authorizing the sale or other disposition of personal property of the city of Metropolis. Abell said the street department has several junk vehicles, and the ordinance authorizes their sale for salvage value.
• Adopted an ordinance establishing a Business Improvement Reimbursement Grant Policy and Program. Abell said the ordinance authorizes changes to the program, including expanding it to cover all of the city's business districts, expands what projects money can be used for and increases the grant's dollar amount.
• Approved payment to D.C. Management LLC of 50% of the real estate tax proceeds received in the TIF 1 Special Allocation Fund, an amount of of $251, from the Fat Edd’s Bar & Grill project.
• Approved the hiring of SCS as the engineer/groundwater specialist for post closure care project at the old landfill.
• And, approved the language for the air ambulance/AirEvac. Abell said air ambulance costs have skyrocketed and the city's third-party health insurance administrator suggested it modify its coverage — offering cost reimbursement to employees who sign up for an air ambulance plan.
Under old business:
• Ward 3 Alderman Darryl Neill said he has received “a lot of complaints and calls about people living in abandoned houses and the theft of personal property "It's happening a lot, and I'm sure it's all over town.” Masse said the police department should be fully staffed again by the end of February.
Under new business:
• Ward 1 Alderwoman Michele Longworth asked if the city has a designated storm shelter. Canada said while the city does not, the courthouse and some churches do. He noted a meeting has been set up to discuss the city's emergency plan. “We're in the process of double checking all of our stuff. It gives us a window of what we might want to look into,” he said.
During Citizen's Request, the council heard two items:
• Joyce Casper and Ford Loverin voiced their concerns about the soon-to-be-developed Pearl Street parking lot at 604 and 608 Pearl.
Casper noted there are several design and material options to make the space more than just concrete, but an area that provides parking, green space and properly designed drainage for the area. She added that watershed grants and loans are available.
While Loverin voiced similar environmental concerns, he also addressed the impact of the parking area on the established neighborhood. Loverin said with the neighborhood's proximity to Market Street, “it's important the planned parking lot does not contribute to a blighting influence of this neighborhood,” which would have an impact on visitors. Loverin added the lot could also be used for community events.
Canada noted the parking lot work has been appropriated into the city's 2021-22 budget and no additional funding is available. He said their concerns can be referred to the Water, Light, Street Committee, for further discussion. He invited Casper and Loverin to be part of that meeting.
“We're not trying to blow it off. We can only spend this much money. We're right on the dollar amount now, but we could put it in the budget for next year. We've asked the contractor have it done before June 1, in time for the Superman Celebration,” Canada said.
On a similar topic, Longworth addressed the city’s public restrooms in the Market Street area, as there had been discussion about relocating the current structure to the new Pearl Street parking lot. She asked the council explore the idea of a permanent structure and provided an example from Mount Airy, North Carolina, that better caters to tourists.
• John Russell informed the council of problems he has been having over recent years with raw sewage backing into his basement on West Sixth Street, especially after hard rains. He said the problem started when the city began working on the streets and is getting worse, noting that during Friday's storm, he vacuumed up 200-plus gallons of raw sewage. Canada said the situation will be looked into.
The council's next regular meeting is 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10, 2022.
Upcoming events in Metropolis include:
• Bulldog Trash Services will run its regular routes during the weeks of Christmas and New Year's.
• City Hall will close Friday, Dec. 24 through Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, and reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. Canada noted calls will be routed through the Metropolis Police Department and be directed to the appropriate party.
• All Public Works departments will be closed Friday, Dec. 24, through Monday, Dec. 27, in observance of Christmas and Friday, Dec. 31, through Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, to observe New Year's.
• The Metropolis Fire Department is holding a toy drive through Friday, Dec. 17, for the Christmas for Kids Toy Drive giveaway, which is Saturday, Dec. 18, from for 8-10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church. Those new, unwrapped donations can be dropped off at the fire station or placed on the Christmas tree at City Hall.