HOUSTON – First someone stole the lights that have been draped from the top of the Chickasaw County Courthouse and then aldermen began looking at the cost of hanging snowflakes in the trees on the Courthouse Square.
The Houston Board of Aldermen may not pay Natchez Trace Electric Power Association to put up and take down community Christmas lights next year. The board has also talked about holiday decorations that are about 30 years old and in need of repair.
So what will Houston do for Christmas light on the Square next year?
“We talked about this situation before Thanksgiving and decided to go ahead and do it this year,” said Houston Mayor Stacey Parker. “We just need to start planning now and decide what we want to do. There will always be some expense in doing this and there are several ways we can do this.”
In November the city approved Natchez Trace EPA hanging Christmas light on Courthouse trees and on light poles for $6,500. Natchez Trace splits the $13,000 cost with the city as a public service.
Place 2 Alderman Shenia Jones asked if city workers could handle connecting and installing lights since this cost has went up this past season. She suggested renting a bucket truck to hang the lights.
Ricko Nichols, Public Works Director, said city workers are not trained or insured to handle that kind of work.
“I like the lights, but we can’t give raises to our employees,” said Jones. “I would like for us to look at something different next year.”
And Parker said the city basically has three options: buy new lights, rework existing lights or let Natchez Trace continue to hang the old lights for a fee like they have done in the past. Parker has also appealed to civic groups, churches, businesses, industry and individuals to consider helping raise funds or offer their skills to rehabilitate Houston’s Christmas decorations
Joyce East told the board the lights with candles that are placed on telephone poles were purchased about 1984 and she really didn’t know how old the snowflakes were. It was also pointed out buying new snowflakes would cost about $350 each.
“I think we need some fresh ideas,” said Alderman-at-Large Barry Springer. “Maybe we can get new colored lights that shine in the trees or maybe someone out there has a better idea. I do think we need something less labor intensive and less expensive to put up.”
Place 4 Alderman Willie Mae McKinney said Woodland always has a nice holiday display and they don’t pay a lot to get that put up. She also pointed out individuals in the community help fund the decorations.
Jones suggested naming a committee of three to four people to consider the issue. She asked aldermen to submit a list of names of people who might be able to help with this project.