Students at the Trent Lott Center at the University of Southern Mississippi are working on compiling data received from more than 500 surveys taken while the downtown Christmas events were happening.
Lori Watts with the Marion County Development Partnership reported to the Board of Aldermen Tuesday about the economic impact study.
It was conducted throughout December to review how the month-long events benefitted the city.
After the 2018 Christmas lighting, funded by private dollars, proved extremely popular, the city used $275,000 from the 3% tourism tax that voters approved last year to go toward Experience Columbia LLC putting on the 2019 Christmas events, which included lights, performances, outdoor ice skating rinks and other festivities.
Watts said the MCDP will also be surveying local businesses and studying the sales tax collections in addition to the impact study to have a better idea how successful the downtown celebration was.
New garbage truck arrives
Columbia’s new garbage truck arrived on Jan. 3, and bids to finance it were taken under advisement at the meeting Tuesday night.
The city solicited bids with the terms of $160,000 for 36 months with a balloon payment of $80,000. State, Trustmark, First Southern and Citizens banks all submitted bids.
Aldermen had voted in May 2019 to buy the new garbage truck when it became clear that the city would be taking back over its own trash collection after its contract with Waste Pro expired on Sept. 30. The city bought the Western Star truck with a New Wave garbage body from Burroughs Diesel in Ellisville for $154,000 with an option to sell it back for $82,000 after three years or $62,000 after four years.
Knowing that the truck wouldn’t be delivered until near the beginning of the year, the city purchased a used truck that it’s been using since Oct. 1, and it plans to keep that one as a backup.
Museum exhibit schedule for 2020
Carol Durham, curator of the Marion County Historical Society Museum, reported a good turnout for the Marion County Vietnam Veterans Exhibit. There is a sign-in book in the museum, and she has noted more than 300 new signatures.
She advised of plans for exhibits this year, including a Prohibition exhibit including the Sheriff J.V. Polk assassination for April and May.
Bootleggers murdered the sheriff in 1960 after he had begun a campaign against illegal stills in Marion County.
From July through September the exhibit will be on Harry Rossoll, the original illustrator for Smokey the Bear. Rossoll, who died in 1999, has family members in Marion County who are helping with the exhibit.
The final exhibit of the year will be a railroad exhibit.
Discussion was held regarding uniforms for the city personnel. The board voted to enter into a contract with Cintas. The new contract will provide 11 uniforms and two jackets plus laundry service for $220 per month.
The board approved the following personnel changes:
Firefighter Steven Scott Bennett from part-time certified to full-time certified;
Adam Whalum as full-time certified patrol officer;
Jeffrey Stams from certified part-time to full-time patrol officer;
Eric W. Verdin as a reserve patrol officer at no pay;
Byron Osgood pay increase from $10.20 an hour to $11.50 an hour.
The next Board of Aldermen meeting will be Jan. 21.