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Molena’s new pavilion nearly complete

By Dwain W. Penn The sounds of progress were heard ringing through the asphalt, concrete and brick surfaces in downtown Molena as the first council meeting of the new year was called to order Jan. 12. Across Highway 18 and south of where Spring Road ends, the new municipal pavilion was under construction in the pecan orchard. An occasional visitor to the quiet town would be astonished at how quickly the facility has risen from its slab foundation. ’We made some last minute changes to the pavilion,’ reported mayor Jay Garner when the agenda item came up. ‘The bathrooms were moved.’ The city saved some money relocating the facilities to the interior between the storeroom and the canteen. Moving the bathrooms to the center of the enclosed area requires only one handicap ramp to be installed. Progress on the construction phase has been so rapid, two members of the civics club were called in to city hall to make a final decision on roof color and exterior walls. A red ‘rust’ roof and gray walls were chosen. According to Garner, the project should be done shortly. The impressive venue is expected to be the pride of local residents and has already received a request for an event. Mike Cox, member of the Pike County Kiwanis Club, addressed council about using the pavilion as a Tour de Pike stop in March. Council was visibly eager to make the pavilion a vibrant hub of social affairs and in the midst of a barrage of verbal superlatives, the request was approved. The civic club has agreed to plan a special ribbon cutting and as waning winter gives way to warmer weather, interest and inquiries will increase. Council also: ’¢ Received the monthly report from police chief Novin Darsey. Two new POST certified officers have expressed interest in coming on staff. Before the meeting adjourned, superior court judge Robert M. Crawford swore in Novin as police chief. ’¢ Heard the city received $6,086 from the state local maintenance and improvement grant. A determination will be made as to which streets will have priority to receive much needed improvements. ’¢ Discussed the 2014 budget with councilman George Ingram, chair of the ways and means committee. As the matter progressed, it was decided to table the work until adjustments could be made on budgeted amounts for certain line items. ’¢ Heard Ingram will check to see if a previous bid of $69,000 from Leary Construction to paint the water tank is still valid. The work will also be discussed with local contractor David Riggins. ’¢ Approved the second reading of the $6 customer water fee that will be applied to the current billing cycle. ’¢ Approved the following city and committee appointments for 2015: Danny Riggins as mayor pro tem; Cindy Darsey, city clerk and treasurer; William Novin Darsey Jr., police chief; Jack L. Park, city attorney; Griffin Howell III, municipal judge; Danny Riggins and Richard Beckham, buildings, grounds and streets; Damon Riggins and Ingram, public safety; Darrell Riggins and Beckham, ways and means. ’¢ Agreed to retain current qualifying fees for council ($9) and mayor ($18). ’¢ Heard the city will contact property owners in an attempt to collect delinquent taxes, some as much as five years in arrears.

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