Jackson mayor addresses infrastructure, crime concerns - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson mayor addresses infrastructure, crime concerns

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Projects aimed to tackle infrastructure issues in the Capital City should begin in the coming weeks, according to Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber.

For some residents, it couldn't come soon enough.

"My husband and I were riding down West Street and literally blew out two tires and dented two rims," said Tamyia Bolds. "And it cost us a fortune to get it fixed." 

It's a story you've probably heard before: potholes that make Jackson streets an obstacle course for drivers, including Yarber.

"This past Thanksgiving night, I'm going to my momma's house and hit a pothole, and both tires on my driver's side popped. It's my personal vehicle," said Yarber. "[These potholes are] not a perception as long as it's people's reality. There is no perception. We have a problem."

Bolton resident Tony Body moved away from Jackson to get away from the city's crime and infrastructure problems.

"You go to Madison, the streets are so smooth. So where are our tax dollars going?" asked Body.

Yarber said city leaders plan to address these issues on a large scale, beginning at Tuesday's city council meeting.

In the coming weeks, money from last year's one-cent sales tax will start being used to fix those problems, from potholes to the things that cause them: broken water mains.

Until that gets approved, the city's doing what it can to patch problems, with public works crews tackling eight different streets on Monday alone.

Bolds remains skeptical, though.

"It took them well over a year to fix the bridge on Mill Street," said Bolds. "It took all of a month for them to tear it down, but a year for them to fix it. That makes you not want to believe them." 

Others lob that criticism directly at city leaders, including the mayor.

"If he was more concerned about the city, he would be more visible, he would be more visible in the neighborhood instead of just being in his office all the time," added. Body. 

Bolds said she gives the mayor the benefit of the doubt, adding the long-term water and sewer system problems didn't get here overnight.

"When you're coming in on the back end and you're trying to repair so many things that have been damaged over long periods of time, it's a lot for one person. So he can't do it by himself," she said.

Those frustrations also include the city's struggle with crime in recent years. Yarber echoed JPD Chief Lee Vance's statement last month that the city has seen a thousand fewer felony crimes this year than last year.

Vance cites increased visibility and community policing as helping reduce those numbers, but Yarber said more needs to be done, even if the results of those efforts take years to come to fruition.

"We need to make sure people have jobs. We've gotta be sure that people have the right kinds of quality education, both K-12 as well as workforce development training," added Yarber. "Because, at the end of the day, the crime problem is one of the direct results of the economics in our city." 

As far as the city's water and sewer concerns, Yarber said he's confident the city will overcome them.

"We are committed to making sure this isn't a conversation we're having in the next five to fifteen years," said Yarber.

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