Manila off to a good start

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Newly elected Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner is not a stranger to city business as he served as city attorney for 22 years.

Pictured are Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner (seated) and department heads, from left: Chief of Police Jackie Hill; Fire Chief Keith Bennett; and Water Superintendent Henry Ford. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Mayor Wagner said the transition went well and his first month in office has gone even smoother than he could have hoped for.

"I, as well as the city of Manila, am fortunate to have good department heads and good employees," Wagner said.

He said Rebecca Hargraves, bookkeeper, does a good job as well as Police Chief Jackie Hill, Water superintendent Henry Ford, and Fire Chief Keith Bennett.

"We have experienced city council members working with our new members making for a good blend," Mayor Wagner said. "We have very good employees and they do a good job."

Manila has always been home to Mayor Wagner. He grew up in Manila, graduating from Manila High School. He was a teacher and coach before returning to school to become an attorney. He opened his law practice in Manila in 1985.

Wagner served as state representative starting in 1987 and termed-out in 1997. His wife, Charolette, is now serving her third term as state representative.

Their sons, Dr. Tommy Wagner and Attorney Wes Wagner, opened their offices in Manila.

Wes joined his father in the law office and is now serving as city attorney.

Mayor Wagner said he is working on retiring from the law office.

Wagner said several projects started when Mayor Veach was in office are underway. Finals plans for the maintenance building, new air conditioning for the community center, and generators for the water department are among the projects. These projects will be funded in part by grants. A new fire truck has been ordered.

Wagner said throughout his campaign he heard a lot about clean-up.

"We are doing a little painting and fixing up around city hall and the police department offices," Wagner said. "When spring gets here we want to get out in the community and help with spring cleaning. We want to help people that need it."

He is looking into the possibility of funding to help with a swimming pool.

"We need to see if there is grant money available and we need to see what the citizens of Manila want in reference to the size and use of the pool," he said. "Do we need something just for recreation or a larger pool to use for competition. We need to get in place a long term plan for our parks and recreation."

"I think it could be reasonable for us to see a 10 percent increase in population," he said. "We should hear from the census count in March or April. Mississippi County has gone down slightly but I think Manila's numbers will be up. We still have building going on."

Fire Chief Bennett said the new fire truck should be delivered by May 1.

"We are working on getting the ISO rating improved," Chief Bennett said. "This will give Manila citizens a cut on their insurance premiums."

Water Superintendent Ford said the water system is in good shape. He said generators for the water department are ordered and should be installed in a couple of weeks. This will keep the water running even during a power outage. He also said the air conditioning for the community center should be installed by the end of the month.

Wagner said he is looking forward to serving as mayor and sees a good future for Manila.

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