Calling existing facilities small and inadequate, Magnolia officials are moving forward with a plan to transform a former garment factory in a city-owned building on Highway 51 into a new police and fire department headquarters.

At their monthly board meeting Tuesday night, aldermen approved a contract with Durrell Design Group PLLC of Clinton to draw up plans for the project.

Durrell’s contract outlines several fees for a variety of services, including $20,000 for an assessment of a potential new facility, $12,000 for construction schematics, $16,000 to prepare various construction documents, $4,000 to oversee bidding and contract negotiations and $8,000 in adminstration fees, as well as an additional fee equal to 8 percent of the total project.  

City officials said existing police and fire stations in Magnolia are small, outdated buildings that sit near the southern border of the town.

Mayor Anthony Witherspoon said one of the goals of the project is to move the headquarters for first responders to a more centralized location.

In 2011, Magnolia extended its northern border to the Fernwood exit of Interstate 55. Witherspoon said the city will likely annex more land to the north, so having a centralized headquarters for first responders will be increasingly important.

The mayor said he hopes the new facilities will improve response times and logistics for first responders.

The existing facilities will serve as precincts or substations after the project is completed, he said.

Aldermen also agreed to pay $4,500 engineer Jeff Laird for a structural survey on the garment factory located at 1400 N. Clark Ave.

Witherspoon said that by using an existing building the city should be able to save on construction costs.

During a special session in 2018, the Mississippi Legislature authorized $500,000 of its $750 million BP oil spill settlement to go toward the project, with Witherspoon crediting his wife, Sen. Tammy Witherspoon, for helping to procure the appropriation.

In other business, the board:

• Accepted a $165,000 bid from Scarbrough Construction for the construction of a farmer’s market pavilion.

• Approved the payment of $302,603 to Fiske International Group for the installation of automated water meters.

• Approved an agreement with collection agency Credence Resource Management, which will receive a 25 percent commission on overdue fines and fees it collects.

• Accepted a $15,000 quote from Griner Drilling for work on a water well near the Croft Metals plant.

• Approved travel for board attorney Charles Miller to attend the Mississippi Municipal League summer conference in Biloxi this month.

• Increased the lunch allowance for trusties working for the city from $6 to $7.50 per day.

• Transferred $9,723 from the capital improvement fund to the 2016 bond construction fund account for architectural design.

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