MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - In our year in review, we take a look at our top stories of 2016. We begin with the first six months in part one.
We began 2016 with the official sale of the Marriott Building. The city of Meridian made the deal with developer John Tampa, who said he would make it into a Courtyard by Marriott. Tampa purchased the historic 16-story art deco building for $10,000. At the time, Tampa told us the project cost would run around $14 million.
On February 2nd, an EF-2 tornado tore through the northwestern part if Lauderdale County. It destroyed multiple homes and totaled the First Baptist Church in Collinsville. Also on that day, upwards of four other tornadoes hit the area causing damage.
In early March the DeKalb Board of Aldermen voted to close the DeKalb police department and allow law enforcement duties to be handed over to the Kemper County Sheriff’s Department. Many business owners and residents turned out for a series of meetings leading up to the final decision.
On April 11th, schools in Lauderdale County, including Meridian schools decided to close after a staff member received a bomb threat via text message. Officials told us the threat mentioned Southeast schools, Meridian high, Northeast and Russell Academy. Nine days after the threat, officials announced they had arrested a 17-year-old in the case.
In May, business owners raised concerns about how long the downtown drainage project was taking. Officials moved the date of completion to August 31st.
In June, it was reported the Meridian Police Department had a shortage of police officers. Newscenter 11 reported there were just over 70 officers on the streets of Meridian. At full capacity, the department would have 110.
Also in June, the secretary of state's office filed a temporary restraining order on Magnolia Cemetery and Meridian Memorial Park. Secretary of state Delbert Hosemann held a press conference in Lauderdale County to speak more on the action filed against those cemeteries and their owner, William Arlinghaus. Hosemann stated 77 people paid into a principal trust fund they could not locate.