City council looks to the future

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 15, 2001

The future of Greenville was the topic of discussion at City Hall on Monday when the Greenville City Council held its workshop.

From projects now in progress to projects of the future, Mayor Dexter McLendon and several other city leaders updated the council on the status of the city and its projects.

Leading the discussion concerning the future of Greenville was Ricky McLaney, executive director of the Butler County Commission for Economic Development, who gave the council an update on the status of the possibility of a computer technical support company locating a new plant in Greenville.

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&uot;The State has put in $3 million for this company to come here,&uot; said McLaney, &uot;thanks to Sen. Wendell Mitchell and Rep. Charles Newton.&uot;

McLaney also explained that for the company to locate in Greenville, an additional $500,000 will have to be funded to acquire the land for the site of the company and for a phone system, which the Butler County Commission approved on Monday morning to guarantee.

The company, which will operate as a technical support center for computer hardware and software, requires looped-fiber optics for its phone systems, which require GTE to extend lines from Hwy. 31 to the facility.

&uot;Another highlight is that the average wage is $8.07 (at the same type of facility in Kansas) with many making a salary of $10 an hour. The average age of a worker ranges from 23-25, and many moved to work at the facility,&uot; said McLaney.

Before beginning his discussion on future projects of the city, McLendon reminded the council that they were not expected to vote on any items. &uot;I’m just bringing things to you as a body so that you can ask questions because they will show back up in the regular agendas,&uot; said McLendon.

Two projects that McLendon is working on to help keep Greenville residents informed are FOCUS, a special informative section that will be published three to four times a year in The Greenville Advocate, and a radio talk show on Q-94 on Tuesday mornings after City Council meetings.

&uot;One problem with miscommunication in local government is that people aren’t well informed as to what is going on and these are two ways that I hope to solve that problem,&uot; said McLendon.

Two of the mayor’s pet projects are

the opening of a movie theater and bowling alley. He explained that business owners have committed to bringing a movie theater and a bowling alley to Greenville. &uot;We are looking at putting a movie theater in the old Winn Dixie building and the bowling alley in the old Harco building, and Laser Tag would also be part of it. But the problem is getting the owners of the bowling alley and the owners of the building getting together to make this work. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer,&uot;he said.

Another &uot;dream&uot; of McLendon’s that he brought to the council was the possibility of a service road between each exit of Interstate 65. &uot;One of the problems we have is our revenues stay about the same and our expenses keep going up. Not only do we have to find a way to keep our expenses down, but we also have to find a way to get our revenues up,&uot; said McLendon.

&uot;One of the revenues that has helped Greenville is Ruby Tuesday. The best thing we have going for us in Greenville is the interstate. However, that area where Ruby Tuesday is located is quite saturated and this road will open up some land. I believe in roads like I believe in spec buildings — if you build them, businesses will come,&uot; said McLendon.

McLendon also gave updates on several projects already occurring, including an expansion of Day Park. The project will consist of taking the larger softball field and using it to create three fields rather than two. &uot;I’ve coached out there for many years and there is a big need for this. Many teams are having to stay until 11 p.m. while school is going on and this will give us an opportunity to have the same age groups playing at the same time,&uot; he said.

Other projects that McLendon touched on included:

– the placement of the traffic light at the old Train Depot which has been approved and should be erected soon;

– the expansion of the airport which is scheduled to be submitted to the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) this week;

– the status of the Community Development Block Grant in which 30 of 68 applicants will see improvements;

– the donation of signs for community improvement by the Salter Company, which has become part of the &uot;Greenville on the Grow&uot; project;

In a discussion of items for the upcoming budget, McLendon gave several suggestions. First, he suggested increasing payments to the jail from $24,000 to $50,000 annually to house prisoners. &uot;Those numbers were figured when the county only had one jailer and requirements for jails now are quite different,&uot; said McLendon. &uot;I took their budget and their cost of running the jail and I took the average number of inmates that we have there and calculated what we should be paying. This is not to pay for the jail that they are building. It is strictly for them to keep up with what it costs to run the jail.&uot;

Another addition to the budget that McLendon suggested was to set aside $6,000 for each district for pipe improvements.

Other additions to the budget McLendon suggested was to acquire land for hauling dirt which the city is in need of for future projects, such as the airport or the Day Park expansion.

McLendon also spoke of several more city improvement projects including adding to the cemetery, the reparation of the YMCA

swimming pool, the construction of batting cages near the skate park and the purchase of a new street sweeper.

Police Chief Lonzo Ingram also gave an overview of the projects of the Greenville Police Department. One topic that Ingram spoke about was the work with John Andrews, who

was recently appointed district attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit. &uot;We have excellent communication with the new district attorney and he is trying to help keep our officers on the streets to keep people from loitering and selling drugs.&uot;

Ingram also said that the department is continuing its fight against drugs in Greenville and that one officer recently completed a basic narcotic investigation school. &uot;From October through July, we made 129 drug-related cases. It's an ongoing, time-consuming job, but it is very necessary.&uot;

Ingram also said that burglaries in Greenville are down 56 percent from the same time last year.

McLendon also asked Fire Chief Mike Phillips to present to the council the plans for a drug program for city employees.

Phillips explained that as of now, it costs approximately $55 for city employees to take a drug test, but a new policy that is being investigated will cost only $12.50 and would be able to be given randomly.