By STEVEN NALLEY
The town of Maben held a grand opening ceremony for its new city hall Tuesday, bringing together city officials, citizens and members of the Golden Triangle community to celebrate a much-needed upgrade to the city’s municipal facilities.
Maben Mayor Larry Pruitt said he and other city officials have desired a new city hall since 2001, and they made it part of a more recent five-year plan to improve the community. He said Maben has only recently been able to secure grant funding, which paid for the city hall together with $50,000 Lloyd Cummins left to the city in his will.
“That $50,000 wouldn’t build (the city hall), but it played a big part in it,” Pruitt said. “We’ve been trying to get grant money for this building, but it didn’t come in until 2008, 2009 and 2010.”
Pruitt said the new city hall cost a total of $318,000, with two grants coming from the Mississippi Development Authority’s Small Municipalities and Limited Population Counties Grant Program two years in a row. He said he is grateful to several people at the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District for helping Maben secure these grants.
“A special thanks (goes) to Mr. Rudy Johnson, Ms. Phylis Benson, Mr. Spencer Brooks and Ms. Patty Patterson,” Pruitt said. “The GTPDD really serves their community. They go above and beyond what’s needed ... to get the grants. They assisted Maben today with helping me organize this (grand opening). They know I depend on them. They kind of adopted me.”
Pruitt said he was also grateful for support from the Maben Board of Aldermen.
“We’ve never had any conflict during this administration in 11 and a half years,” Pruitt said.
The new city hall is a substantial improvement over the old one, which was demolished in 2011, Pruitt said. The new city hall has improved Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and accessibility, he said, and the old building was dilapidated.
“There was mold and mildew,” Pruitt said. “It wasn’t as large as this (new building). We had a bathroom facility you couldn’t get into, hardly. It wasn’t safe, and we’re just glad and we thank God for providing us with this opportunity. We pray that other communities that are in situations (like that) or are about to be in (such) situations get good public facilities for their communities.”
At one point, the GTPDD was in discussions to renovate Maben’s city hall instead of replacing it, and a GTPDD project description from 2008 reveals more details about the former city hall’s state. The document says the building’s most pressing need was new roofing to prevent further damage to the building.
“(The old) multi-level municipal building was originally constructed for other uses, including apartments, newspaper offices and other small shops. Due to its age and years of adaptation of use, it (was) in a state of disrepair,” the document says. “Ceilings and walls (had) sustained extensive water damage. Window (air conditioning) units (were) inefficient and unappealing. The two sides of the building (did) not have an accessible connection.”
Before she became a Mississippi senator and then a lieutenant governor, Mississippi State University campus services vice president Amy Tuck grew up in Maben. So, she said she remembers the old city hall and is glad to see the new one open.
“I think this is going to be such a nice building,” Tuck said. “It’s updated; it’s modern; it’s safe. This is a joint effort, and it starts with the leadership of the mayor, the board and the community working with entities such as MDA (and) the GTPDD. This demonstrates what happens when everybody sets that vision and works hard to bring it to fruition.