LIBERTY — A new town judge and prosecutor took their oaths of office Tuesday at the town board meeting.
Mayor Pat Talbert administered the oaths to new prosecuting attorney Sara Jones Hemphill and judge Ben Weathers.
Hemphill took the position formerly held by her father, Reggie Jones, who continues to serve as board attorney. Weathers replaces judge Roger Arnold.
Hemphill was accompanied by her husband Patrick and daughters Bess and Riley. Jones held Bess and Patrick held Riley while Hemphill took the oath. Then they posed for a family photograph.
Asked whom he was prouder of, his daughter or his grandchildren, Jones grinned and said he would plead the Fifth Amendment.
Weathers was accompanied by Gayle Tumey, who he said is “like a second mother to me.” Tumey wiped away a tear after Weathers completed the oath.
Trunk-or-treat to Vance park
In another matter, Liberty Area Chamber of Commerce president Grant McCurley asked the board’s permission to move the Halloween trunk-or-treat from the courthouse square in Liberty to Ethel Vance Natural Area a mile west of town on Highway 24.
McCurley said participation has increased and “it’s quite hectic” in town, given the number of children and vehicles.
He said parking is a problem for parents, and weather can disrupt the town event, as it almost did last year. Vance park has a covered arena and ample parking.
Instead of filling car trunks with goodies, “we are asking those participating to bring a table and set up a table,” he said.
McCurley said Scenic Rivers Development Alliance will provide hay rides in the park.
“You could have a hay ride for the kids while trunk-or-treat is going on,” he said.
Thos year’s event will be 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31. To avoid conflicting with church fall festivals, organizers will put up banners announcing them.
“Ultimately the end goal is safety for the kids,” McCurley said.
He said organizers will clean the park up that night of the event.
“We’re going to leave it better than I found it,” he said.
Aldermen unanimously approved the request.
“I feel like this will give us room to grow into something great for the kids,” McCurley said.
New route for parade
McCurley and Police Chief Brad Bellipanni also updated the board on plans for a new route for the Christmas parade, which will be held 6 p.m. Dec. 12.
Last year’s parade went from east to west.
McCurley said this year’s parade will start at the courthouse and go east to Roberts and Irene roads, at which point school bands and some others can branch off to the right while the rest of the parade continues to Liberty Community Living Center.
Last year “we probably had 10 or 15 residents from the nursing home outside waiting on us, bundled up in coats and blankets,” McCurley said.
In other business, aldermen:
• Accepted McCurley’s resignation from the police department. McCurley, who’s worked for the town for nines years, said he’s cutting back due to the birth of a daughter. “We thank you for your service,” said alderman Greg Walsh.
• Heard a presentation from Bernadine Allen of LegalShield, which offers identity theft protection and insurance along with other legal services. Aldermen voted to reject her offer later in the meeting.
• Got an update on the 2020 Census from Kelvin Rankin.
• At Bellipanni’s recommendation, increased the fee for accident reports from $10 to $20. Bellipanni said the state has changed the form, results in much more paperwork.
• Agreed to allow David Wilson of Gillsburg to pay off his natural gas bill in installments after it shot up due to a leak on his side of the line.
• Approved payments of $5,895 to The Ferguson Group and $725 to Neel-Schaffer for work on the Community Development Block Grant water tank restoration project.
• Voted to opt out of uninsured motorist coverage from the Mississippi Municipal Liability Plan.
• Accepted a certificate of attendance for court clerk Sandra Wall at a three-day conference in Biloxi.
• Accepted a proposal from Haddox, Reid, Eubank, Betts to prepare the 2018-19 financial reports for up to $13,900, a $100 increase from last year.