Mailout to alleviate voter confusion

Ward 4 Councilwoman Mary Dryden doesn’t want to see the problems associated with Hattiesburg’s 2013 municipal election repeated this year. After the May 2 Primary election, however, her faith has been shaken.

Dryden addressed her concerns during last Monday’s agenda-setting meeting of the Hattiesburg City Council in City Hall. She said confusion over voting precincts was evident.

“It really disturbs me greatly that the city did not send out notices to all of our voters before the Primary Election telling them where they should go vote,” she said. “It’s very confusing that in national and state elections, they go to one place and then they go to a different place for municipal elections.”

Hattiesburg City Clerk Kermas Eaton said Tuesday city residents should be receiving a postcard detailing their voting precincts in the mail this week.

Dryden said she became aware of precinct troubles during the Primary Election when she got a phone call from a voter.

“A voter in Ward 2 went to the Cultural Center to vote,” she said. “He saw someone in the parking lot who told him that it was going to be held at the African-American History Museum. So I made signs myself and took them to the Cultural Center and posted one on the front door and one on the back door. Those signs were apparently removed by someone because the time the Arts Council got there that morning not too much after that, there were no signs on either door.”

Dryden said voters went to the Cultural Center to vote and were turned away.

“Seventy-five to 100 people came into the building to vote to find out that that was not the place that they were supposed to vote,” she said. “One was a person who is disabled and confined to a wheelchair. That’s extremely unfortunate.”

In 2013, the race for Hattiesburg mayor landed in court, where a mistrial was declared in candidate Dave Ware’s 37-vote loss to incumbent Mayor Johnny DuPree. Dryden said mistakes were made four years ago.

“The Arcadia-Sunset neighborhood would be one example in Ward 4. Another would be the Historic neighborhood. In the election four years ago, the Arcadia-Sunset voters went to one precinct and there was a sign posted that said they were supposed to go to Thames School. Well, they weren’t supposed to go to either of those places; they were supposed to go to Kamper Park. It was very, very confusing. I would think we would learn from a mistake like that and do that this time. Apparently not.”

Dryden said the voting precinct mixup was unfortunate.

“We don’t need to let things like that happen in Hattiesburg,” she said. “We can do better. We need to have a very good election process this time. We have a lot to prove that we can do things better and learn from our mistakes. We made too many four years ago. Let’s get it right.”

Dryden, an independent, is running against Democrat James C. Smith in the June 6 General Election.

In other action Tuesday, the City Council:

• Approved, with one abstention, the minutes for the April 17, 18 and 27 City Council meetings. Ward 2 Alderwoman Deborah Delgado abstained from the motion to approve.

• Adopted a Resolution unanimously authorizing Requisition No. 69 from the Project Fund Construction Account in connection with a certain loan agreement dated Dec. 19, 2013, by and between the Mississippi Development Bank and the City of Hattiesburg.

• Adopted a Resolution authorizing Requisition No. 5 from the Project Fund Construction Account in connection with a certain loan agreement dated Aug. 18, 2016, by and between the Mississippi Development Bank and the City of Hattiesburg.

• Approved unanimously a petition filed by Joey Taylor, representative, D.R. Horton, owner, for a variance from minimum side setback for R­1A which states the minimum side setback of 10 feet and instead allow a setback of 7.5 feet for a variance of 2.5 feet for certain property located at 54 East Yellowstone Drive. The Planning Commission recommended approving on May 3.

• Approved unanimously a petition filed by Rusty Edwards, representative, on behalf of University Baptist Church, owner, to request a variance from Section 7.9.1.7, which states the maximum height of walls shall be four feet when located in a front yard and instead allow a height of six feet, 10 inches for a variance of two feet, 10 inches for certain property located at 3200 Arlington Loop. The Planning Commission recommended approving on May 3.

• Approved ***** Denied the request to abolish Office Assistant Position in the Police Department and re­allocate funds to proposed Office Manager Position.

• Authorized unanimously the Mayor to execute a professional service agreement between the City of Hattiesburg and Shows, Dearman and Waits, Inc. in the amount of $161,928 for the Rehabilitation of the roadway structure of Lamar Boulevard and extension of the city owned sewer system and for water system along Lamar Boulevard.

• Authorized unanimously the Mayor to execute Professional and Consulting Services agreement in duplicate with Broaddus & Associates, effective May 4.

• Authorized unanimously the Mayor to execute contract between the City of Hattiesburg and Precision Construction, LLC in the amount of $924,944 for the Infrastructure Improvements Along South 31st Avenue, South 30th Avenue, Chevy Chase Drive and Hardy Street Project.

• Authorized unanimously the Mayor to execute contract between the City of Hattiesburg and C.B. Developers, Inc. in the amount of $799,482.93 for the Lake Forgetful Road Project.

• Authorized unanimously the Mayor to execute a rental agreement between the City of Hattiesburg and Hattiesburg Moose Lodge for use of the building as a municipal voting precinct.

• Authorized and approved unanimously the Mayor to execute revised professional services agreement between the City of Hattiesburg and Havard Pest Control, Inc., to provide pest and termite control services to the City of Hattiesburg.

• Acknowledged receipt of Quitclaim Deed and accepted donation of a certain parcel of land in Forrest County to City of Hattiesburg from West Rock United Pentecostal Church of Hattiesburg; in turn, approve granting of Quitclaim Deed and contribution of a certain parcel of land in Forrest County from City of Hattiesburg to West Rock United Pentecostal Church of Hattiesburg; authorized City Clerk to record deeds at Forrest County Chancery Clerk's office.

• Acknowledged unanimously receipt of deed and accept donation from Robert N. Graham, LLC of a parcel of land in Lamar County as described in Deed for the Lake Forgetful Road Project Expansion.

• Acknowledged unanimously receipt of deed and accepted donation from Hattiesburg Met 1, LLC, of a parcel of land in Lamar County as described in Deed for the Lake Forgetful Road Project Expansion; authorized city clerk to record deed with Lamar County.

• Acknowledged unanimously receipt of Quitclaim Deed and Accept Donation from Billy Barrett, Jr. of a parcel of land in Forrest County; authorized City Clerk to record Deed with Forrest County.

• Declared and approved, with one abstention, the purchase of National Night Out Against Crime supplies in an amount not to exceed $6,928, from NATW as a sole source purchase. Ward 2 Alderwoman Deborah Delgado abstained from the motion to approve.

• Designated unanimously the Antique Car Show, to be co­hosted by the Lucky Rabbit and the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association on Saturday, June 3, as a city­ approved event for the purposes described in Ordinance No. 3148.

• Ratified and confirmed by a 4-1 vote the Mayor’s appointment of Jessie Wilson (Ward 2) to the Board of Adjustment for a term (May 16 through May 15, 2019) beginning May 16 and ending May 15, 2019. Ward 2 Alderwoman Deborah Delgado voted against the motion.

• Extended unanimously the state of emergency for an additional 30 days to allow for the ongoing cleanup resulting from the tornado that occurred on Jan. 21.

• Acknowledged receipt of the monthly budget report for the month ending April 30.

• Approved unanimously a three-year contract with CSpire for Internet at the temporary Mass Transit location for $289 per month.

• Approved and authorized unanimously issuance of manual check for CDBG Program Claim.

• Approved unanimously the sale of grave spaces.

• Approved unanimously claims docket for the period ending May 12.

• Designated unanimously the Porter Pub's Anniversary Celebration, to be co­hosted by the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association on Friday, June 2, as a city approved event for the purposes described in Ordinance No. 3148.

• Approved and authorized unanimously issuance of manual check for CDBG Program Claim.