Future Plans: City of Meridian

It's been less than a week since a new administration was sworn into office, and Newscenter 11 has details about more changes that could be made in Meridian in the future.

Neighborhood revitalization is an issue that Mayor Percy Bland says is high on his agenda. This includes further decreasing the number of abandoned pieces of property within the city.

"Of course, we have our current agreement with the county on that, but I think that there are some things that we can do, and I'm going to look at some of the models, like what Hattiesburg is doing and one of their initiatives, and we're going to try to implement some of those things here," says Mayor Bland.

Some city council members have already traveled to Hattiesburg to examine revitalization efforts there. In coming weeks Mayor Bland says he plans to do the same.

Meanwhile, newly appointed Police Chief James Lee says that part of his plan of action is to get officers involved within the community in multiple ways.

"This is a God fearing town," says Lee. "People like their churches here, so we need to get involved in those churches. I intend to go to church meetings. I intend to go to some churches. The mayor is going to churches. We're going to go back and help the people understand that we want to be involved in our community."

To do this Chief Lee is also proposing Police Athletic Leagues that sponsor games for different age groups within the city.

As for concerns that the new administration is facing, one of those involves the Meridian Fire Department and its high turnover rate.

"Our pay is probably one of the lowest in the state, and we're losing folks," says MFD Chief Anthony Clayton. "I know that we can't compete with the Navy Base and we can't compete with the Air Guard Base, but we can make a statement and get the guys pay up some."

Whether or not that happens will be determined by members of the new city council when they vote on the budget for the new fiscal year which starts October 1st.