Forrest County Supervisor and local business owner Burkett Ross went before the Petal mayor and board of Aldermen Tuesday night to contest the actions of the City of Petal in response to ongoing code violations at his bowling alley, Burkett’s.
Mayor Hal Marx, Fire Chief Joe Hendry and Assistant Chief Sims said that the code violations have been an ongoing issue for around two years.
However, following the January tornado an inspection was conducted at his property. The fire chief and assistant chief said he was in violation of the following codes: inaccessible gas/electrical service, improper storage of outside storage or rubbish, disorderly stock, no use of extension cords, open electric boxes or outlets, inadequate exits, extinguishers not mounted within 75 feet, inadequate quantity of extinguishers, inadequate sized extinguishers and lack of service.
Sims said Ross was given approximately three months to get up to code before the city cut power and water to the business.
Ross contested that he was in the process of correcting these violations, but cutting the power and water has hindered his efforts. However, Marx said there was no sign of improvement to the building until after the utilities were terminated.
“Turning off the water and power is a last resort for us,” Sims said of their attempts to correct code violations.
Chief Hendry said one of his major concerns was the amount of clutter stacked around the building. He said this poses a risk for firemen who may be called out to extinguish a fire in the building.
Ross said he has never had an issue with a fire hazard in the past, to which Marx responded, “Just because it hasn’t happened in the past, doesn’t mean that it won’t in the future.”
Alderman Craig Bullock told Ross that as a local business owner himself, he always addresses fireman’s concerns when they are conducting a safety inspection.
“That’s just the standard I hold myself to,” he said.
Daniel Warren, a Petal resident, addressed the board on Ross’ behalf after he exited the meeting.
“He spent $30,000 getting his business back in order,” Warren said.
He added that the bowling alley served as an educational opportunity for William Carey University and Petal High School students, as they used the building to practice.
“He’s an asset to the community,” Warren said, recalling the days he would drop his own children off at the bowling alley, knowing they were safe with Ross.
“Nobody disagrees, but he has to get up to code,” Bullock said.
“If somebody gets killed in there, that would be on us,” Alderman Steve Stringer added.
“The building got in that shape from years of neglect, and he was warned two years ago,” Marx said. “Hopefully he will bring it into compliance.”