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Mayor, new aldermen meet with department heads

NATCHEZ — City of Natchez officials and department heads met Tuesday in the first of regular meetings the mayor plans to conduct with city staff.

Mayor Darryl Grennell, Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier, Ward 4 Alderwoman Felicia Irving and Ward 5 Alderman Benjamin Davis, who took office Friday, met with most of the city’s department heads as well as newly appointed City Clerk Wendy McClain and City Attorney Everett Sanders in the City Hall conference room.

Grennell emphasized communication among the various departments and said he hoped the meetings serve as a way to create “synergies” among the departments. He asked departments heads to encourage their employees to go above and beyond in their performance of their duties.

“The city is a place where we all live,” he said. “We all want to enhance our quality of life.”

Grennell outlined several goals during the meeting, including ensuring every resident is treated with respect and friendliness by city employees and incorporating technology into more city services and business.

Grennell said residents should be able to rely on the city’s mobile app — Access Natchez — for an updated calendar of events, directory and to report potholes and other concerns.

The app currently includes a feature where users can report a concern, submit a photo of it and input location information such as the user’s current location, a location chosen on a map or with an address.

Response times for residents’ concerns, Grennell said, should be quick. Grennell said he would like to have potholes reported to the city filled within 24 hours, as long as weather permitted.

Grennell asked the department heads to think about how the app could be utilized within their departments.

Natchez Transit and Senior Center Director Sabrena Bartley said she would like transit customers able to schedule a ride and pay for services via the app or at least with credit and debit cards.

Bartley said she has made requests in the past to equip the Natchez Transit System with technology to accept card payments, but the systems were never acquired.

Other department heads suggested Information Technology Director Ed Bowser could assist in setting up that technology because he had done so in other departments.

Grennell also informed the department heads that he would be seeking to install monitors in the city council chambers and expected them to give their reports at board meetings with supporting electronic materials available for viewing on the monitors.

Preparation for board of aldermen meetings will also be a priority, Grennell said, with department heads expected to turn in requests and reports several days in advance. Informational packets will be delivered to the aldermen by a designated city employee to ensure the aldermen have ample time to review requests prior to board meetings, Grennell said.

Bartley also requested aldermen inform department heads of residents’ requests or concerns prior to board meetings so they can prepare solutions.

Grennell said he plans to conduct the meetings with department heads weekly for the near future. He said the meetings might eventually be scaled back to every other week.

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