News Briefs

Water Billing Upgrades

Jackson is spending another $947,000 to shore up its water system.

Last week, the city council approved entering into contract with Mythics, Inc.

Over the next five months, the Virginia Beach company will move Jackson’s “customer care and billing software” off of the city’s current water and billing infrastructure to a cloud-based system.

The contract is for approximately $947,000 and will include the initial work as well as a one-year license and service agreement with the firm.

The work is needed in large part because of “age and capacity issues” with Jackson’s current billing department infrastructure.

Problems with the current system have hindered the implementation of the “customer care and billing software” installed as part of a $91 million energy performance contract with Siemens.

The CC&B, as it is colloquially known, went live in 2015. Since then, the billing department has faced numerous complications. 

“This is a thorough rebuilding of all of our systems. It is a long-term fix to the problems we’ve been having with our customer care and billing software,” Chief Administrative Officer Robert Blaine told the council.

“Our legal team has gone through the contract with a very fine-toothed comb to make sure all of the agreements are in the right place and our protections are in the right place as well.”

Mythics, which is based in Virginia Beach, VA, currently has a $293 million contract to manage cloud-based solutions for the United States Air Force, as well as contracts to manage clouds for the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Blaine said.

“They’re the big boys in cloud solutions … (they) do this work every day.”

Additional details of the contract were discussed in executive session, due to potential litigation.

The council approved the measure on a 4-1 measure, with Council members Ashby Foote, Virgi Lindsay, Melvin Priester and Charles Tillman voting in favor. Ward Six Councilman Aaron Banks was opposed.

Work will take five months to complete.


Radio Tower Approved

Updated plans for a radio tower, which were originally shot down last June , were recently approved by the Madison County board of supervisors.

Matthew Wesolowski, with WYAB 103.9 FM, was granted a conditional use for the communications tower which is intended for the station’s radio signal. The board approved his request, and no opposition was present at the meeting.

The proposed location is a half mile from the original spot they were seeking last year. The property is located on Lake Cavalier Road and is zoned R-1 residential. 

Last year, Wesolowski requested the board’s approval to build the tower and a 10x10-foot shed on 2.73 acres of 16th section land leased by the Madison County School District.

While the station’s studio would remain in Flora, the station requested the special exception for a broadcast site in Madison.

The request was previously denied because of resident complaints that they would be able to see the tower from their homes or that the tower would add extra traffic.

However, Wesolowski said that traffic will not be an issue as the site will not hold the studio, where the team works.

The station had to gain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission and the Madison County School Board before taking the matter to Madison County Planning and Zoning and then the Board of Supervisors.



Zoo Audit Underway

An audit of the Jackson Zoological Park’s finances should wrap up in a matter of weeks.

“We have engaged Bruno and Tervalon, a Jackson firm, and hope to have it closed out by the end of the month,” said Jackson Chief Administrative Officer Robert Blaine.

The audit is needed so city officials and the group the city hopes will take over park management can have a better understanding of the park’s finances.

Jackson is currently in talks with ZoOceanarium, an international firm Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba hopes to bring on to manage the park.

The audit was supposed to be completed in December but was delayed because of a clerical error.

“There was a miscommunication between our financial team, our finance department and the auditing firm,” Blaine told the Sun previously. “They hadn’t received a letter from the city to initiate the work. We thought that it had already been communicated.”

The firm was waiting for the city to issue an official “notice to proceed,” the documentation contractors need to begin a project on behalf of a government.

The notice was finally issued in February.



LED Lighting for R’land

In an effort to continue Ridgeland’s status as environmentally friendly, the city accepted proposals from Entergy for LED lighting to be installed along Colony Park Boulevard.

The two mile stretch of road from Highland Colony Parkway to Highway 51 was recently completed, but still needs lighting.

Entergy gave the city a few LED options to look over.

Ridgeland mayor Gene McGee said they have been making the switch to LED lighting across the city as the need comes up.

According to the proposal, Entergy would be responsible for the installation and maintenance of the proposed streetlights, and Ridgeland would pay the reoccurring lease fees for the lights under the city’s street lighting account with Entergy.

However, McGee said the project may not be complete for another year.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED is one of the most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technologies. LED products use approximately 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lights.

The Department of Energy reports that LED lighting has “the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States.”

McGee said all new lighting in the city moving forward will be LED.

“LED lighting is more efficient, so the cost to operate is more efficient,” McGee said. “And you don’t have to replace it as often.”


New Office Building

Plans are moving forward to bring a new office building to Highland Colony Parkway following approval from the Ridgeland board of aldermen and the architectural review board.

The Bell Building is being designed by Dean and Dean architects and is set to be located in lot one at The Quorum’s 11.6-acre campus.

The Quorum is subdivided to allow for one- and two-story buildings.

The property is located across from Renaissance at Colony Park and near I-55 and the Natchez Trace.



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