- Bob Arnold
Wesson officials attend MML conference
By Bob Arnold
Mayor Alton Shaw, Town Clerk Angela Hester, Public Works Director Brad Turner and town Aldermen Jarred Ashley, Billy Ellison, Larry Hall and Michael King returned from the 91st annual conference of the Mississippi Municipal League (MML) at the convention center in Biloxi newly-prepared for their individual leadership roles and to work better as a team.
They joined some 3,000 municipal elected officials, municipal employees, state agency representatives, legislators, exhibitors, among others at the annual event. Representatives from state and federal agencies as featured speakers and leaders of educational sessions brought them the insights, knowledge and perspectives the Wesson officials need for their jobs and the locals polished their team-playing mindset and skills in a deep sea fishing experience they found at the coastal Mississippi conference site.
The MML annual conference is the largest association event held in the state each year.
"Blast Off to Municipal Excellence" framed an array of topics as the conference theme, including state laws, grant opportunities, medical marijuana, municipal liability, community and economic development, infrastructure funding, disaster recovery, and water and sewer issues.
Every year, the Wesson contingent finds a special team-building experience when they attend the conference, says Town Clerk Hester. This year, it was a deep sea fishing adventure provided by Silver Dollar Three.
"We pick experiences that are not only fun and relaxing activities, but are also group exercises in which we learn about each other -- our strengths and weaknesses," explains Hester. "We come out of them a stronger team that can work together better."
Other highlights of the conference were presentation of 2022 Municipal Excellence Awards, an induction ceremony for the 2022 Municipal Hall of Fame and an expo show, showcasing more than 150 businesses, state agencies and other organizations. The Certified Municipal Official program graduated more than 100 municipal leaders.
This year’s conference also welcomed Municipal Court Clerks into the event for the first time. Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch spoke to them about victims of human trafficking and the state's new Commercial Sexual Exploitation Fund that will be partially funded by fines that have been increased to $1,000 on persons convicted of simple and aggravated assault, including aggravated domestic violence; human trafficking, statutory rape, including forcible sexual intercourse; sexual battery, offenses affecting children and procuring prostitution.
Going forward, the Court Clerks will be training alongside other MML members at the conference.
“This conference allows municipal elected officials from across the state to participate in educational sessions taught by subject matter experts on topics critical to the operation of municipal government," 2021-22 MML President Errick D. Simmons, Mayor of Greenville, Mississippi, said.. "As we continue to work to strengthen Mississippi, we also have the opportunity to network and share ideas with each other to move our communities and our state forward together. The educational programs and networking opportunities were second to none. The sessions provided excellent resources for all of us as we face the various challenges and opportunities."