City board gets update on Kramer Roof lawsuit

McComb Mayor Quordiniah Lockley presents a plaque to city police processor Sandra James for her 20 years of service. 

The McComb city board has a court hearing June 7 for a lawsuit involving the Jubilee Performing Arts Center collapse, and Mayor Quordiniah Lockley told the board Tuesday that he anticipates the judge will set a court date during the hearing.

“We meet with the judge, and most likely, he is going to set the date for court,” Lockley said, adding that former board attorney Wayne Dowdy, who is representing the city in the matter, previously said a court date could would likely be in August or September.

The board approved a $2,138 payment to Cosmich Simmons and Brown PPLC for Dowdy’s services regarding the lawsuit, which is styled Hudson Specialty Insurance Co. vs. the City of McComb, Terrance Alexander, JPAC and Talex Enterprises LLC.

The lawsuit stems from the July 2017 collapse of the downtown Kramer Roof building, allegedly due to a stopped-up drain that caused the flat rooftop to hold water.

No one was injured in the collapse, but the city spent around $400,000 on debris removal that it claimed should have been reimbursed by the insurance company.

Hudson Specialty Insurance Co. sued owner Talex and the city, asserting the building had no liability for the city’s expenses and its policy should be invalidated.

In other news, Selectman Ronnie Brock again took issue with the city’s claims docket. He asked Lockley to move the claims docket from the automatic consent docket so he could vote against it without voting against other items on the consent agenda.

On May 12, Brock also chose to move the claims docket from the consent docket to vote against it. He said then that his reason was that there were two or three items he did not support and wanted to vote against without having to vote against the board’s minutes. Brock did not identify which payments he disagreed with.

Reached Wednesday, Brock would not identify which payments he opposed.

In a work session on May 19, Brock also asked board attorney Angela Cockerham if she would look into the possibility of the city changing banks from First Bank. He did not state his reasons, but Cockerham told him the board would not be able to switch until 2022, when its contract is up. Brock asked for a copy of the contract for review, and Lockley and Cockerham said they could get it for him.

“I see some bank officers have comments that seem to signal that they are not happy with the City of McComb,” Brock said. “I want to make sure the bank is just as satisfied with us as we are with them, and if not we can talk about it and maybe do something else. If some of the board members or bank officers think it’s good for them and good for us, it may be good for us to make that change.”

In another matter, the board recognized long-time police department employee Sandra James for her 20 years serving as a processor, awarding her a plaque for her efforts.

“I could tell you a lot about her, but I’m not,” Lockley said, laughing. “It is not one of those easy jobs because sometimes people can be ugly with a processor, but she has managed to stay there. I’ve seen others that have come and others that have left since she has been there, but she stayed there until she decided she was ready to retire.”

In other news, the board: 

• Appointed Stephanie Robinson to the Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees.

• Named Gwendolyn Tavira as the joint city-county appointment to the McComb/Pike County Airport Board.

• Approved a $123,941 payment to Land Co. Development Inc. for debris removal and disposal.

• Ratified the mayor’s and public work director’s signatures on a permit which granted Cable One the right to provide services to FedEx.

• Gave Public Works Director Alice Barnes the authority to advertise the city’s overlay project in which the city is using $3.2 million in state-awarded bond money to mill and overlay streets with the help of Neel-Schaffer Engineering.

• Announced a vacancy on the civil service commission. Lockley said the city is taking applications and hopes selectmen will have recommendations at the next board meeting.

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