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New Way Trucks announces major expansion in Prentiss County (copy)

New Way Trucks will bring 120 new jobs to Prentiss County through a $4 million expansion project announced Wednesday.

The company has announced it will open additional manufacturing operations in a 66,000-square-foot facility purchased by Prentiss County where employees will manufacture and fabricate parts and sub-assemblies, as well as conduct research and new product development.

The new expansion comes almost two years after the company announced in October 2019 it would locate operations in the former Wolverine Tube building in the Booneville/Prentiss Industrial Park where they now manufacture a full line of refuse trucks designed for the collection of residential and commercial solid waste.

The newly announced jobs will be added at both Booneville facilities.

“We have been so pleased with the partnerships created with the State of Mississippi, MDA, Prentiss County, and the City of Booneville that increasing our presence here was an easy decision. The skilled workforce and business friendly climate here in northeast Mississippi are key to helping New Way meet our planned growth strategies and to support our growing customer base across North America and beyond,” said New Way Trucks CEO Mike McLaughlin.

The Mississippi Development Authority is providing assistance for building upgrades. MDA also certified New Way Trucks for the Advantage Jobs Rebate Program, which is available for eligible businesses that create new jobs exceeding the average annual wage of the state or county in which the company locates or expands. Prentiss County and the Tennessee Valley Authority also are assisting with the project.

New Way Trucks expects to begin operations in the new facility by the end of the year and plans to fill the new jobs over the next two years.

“Mississippi boasts a strong portfolio of business advantages, all of which assist in keeping companies like New Way Trucks competitive in today’s marketplace. Mississippi’s strongest advantage is our people, who are committed their employer’s success just as much as their own. That can-do spirit pays off tremendously when companies are ready to grow, and we thank the New Way Trucks team for again recognizing the benefits of a Mississippi location and bringing these new jobs to Prentiss County,” said Gov. Tate Reeves.

“New Way Trucks has quickly become part of the Prentiss County family. The fast and successful ramp up of new operations, quality products being manufactured locally and the company’s commitment to being active in the community has the Prentiss County Board of Supervisors excited about the future of our county and New Way Trucks. The Board welcomes this expansion and vows continued partnership for the future,” said Matt Murphy, President, Prentiss County Board of Supervisors.

“The city of Booneville is proud of the success that New Way Trucks has had and excited about their growth. The capital investment and great paying jobs being added are a testament to the quality of our workforce. The Board of Aldermen and I thank New Way for their commitment to doing business in our great city,” said Chris Lindley, Mayor, City of Booneville.

“Prentiss County continues to see progress. The local workforce has proven it’s capability and dependability to New Way’s leadership and in response the company is adding investment and jobs to Prentiss County. This project’s success benefited from a strong partnership for progress which included: County officials, City officials, State of Mississippi, TVA, ARC, Northeast MS Community College, NEMPDD and others. It takes many partners playing many roles to foster a competitive environment for economic development and we are winning in Prentiss County. At an average of $50,000 per year, these new career opportunities will make a significant impact. PCDA Thanks the McLaughlin family and all of New Way’s team for their commitment to our area,” said Prentiss County Development Association Executive Director Leon Hays.

“The strong manufacturing workforce found in Prentiss County stepped up to the plate to get to work for New Way Trucks when the company announced it was locating in Booneville nearly two years ago. Since then, employees have worked hard for the company, producing some of the best refuse and recycling vehicles in the industry. That dedication to a job well done, combined with their strong manufacturing skills, played a significant role in the company’s decision to grow so quickly in north Mississippi,” said MDA Executive Director John Rounsaville.

“TVA and Prentiss County Electric Power Association congratulate New Way Trucks on its decision to expand operations in Booneville. It is always an exciting day when we can celebrate a company’s continued commitment to growth in the Valley. We are proud to partner with Prentiss County Development Association, Prentiss County, city of Booneville, and Mississippi Development Authority to help companies, like New Way Trucks, create job opportunities and growth in the region,” said TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley.

Aldermen approve employee raises

Booneville city employees will soon see a bit more in their paychecks after aldermen approved pay raises.

The board also voted Tuesday to reject a proposal for the county to collect taxes for the city and approved a pair of changes to the city’s hiring policy.

Aldermen approved raises in the fire department based on a rank-based plan submitted by Fire Chief Michael Rutherford, an overall raise of $2/hour for each position in the police department and a raise of $1 per hour for all other full or part-time city employees. The motion for the raises, made by Ward 2 Alderman Jeff Williams and approved unanimously, made clear this increase will be the only increase this year and there will not be any raises included in the budget for the next fiscal year when it is approved in September.

The board agreed the departments can absorb the costs of the raises for the remainder of the fiscal year and the increases can be factored in when the new budget is set. At a previous meeting discussing raises, emphasis was made on the need to bring wages for city jobs closer to those suggested in a wage study commissioned by the city comparing local compensation with that of similar communities in the state in order to be able to attract and retain quality employees.

The board rejected a proposal Tuesday to allow the county to collect city taxes, citing concerns over lost revenue and costs. Mayor Chris Lindley presented the plan which would have contracted with the county for the collection at a cost of 3 percent of monies collected. Lindley said very few cities in the state still collect their own taxes which has made it almost impossible to get appropriate training for the city’s tax collector. He said there have also been legal issues with the city and county operating separate delinquent tax sales involving many of the same properties and there are significant costs involved in collecting the taxes.

Alderman at Large Lavaile Shields said she would be strongly in favor of moving the responsibility out of city hall. However, she expressed concern over how the costs of the proposal would be covered as well as lost revenue from the city’s collection of taxes from the Booneville School District.

City Accountant David Jones told the board the total cost of the proposal including lost fees and payment to the county would be around $150,000.

Aldermen voted not to move forward with the plan due to concerns over the lost revenue.

The board voted to change the city’s hiring policy to remove a requirement for new full-time employees in park maintenance, gas and water, street, and public property departments to hold a high school diploma or GED. Lindley said it’s very difficult to find employees to hire and they’ve had to reject several good potential employees who hold the proper commercial vehicle licenses and machine operating skills due to the diploma requirement. The move does not change the requirement for positions in city hall, fire, police, or any area where money will be handled or clerical skills are required.

Aldermen also agreed to change hiring rules to allow department heads to hire and promote employees based on experience and their recommendation instead of strictly based on time with the city as long as they stay in compliance with all federal and state hiring rules. Street Department Manager James Olive said the change will make it easier for him to fill some much-needed positions.

In other business, the board:

approved the reappointment of all current city department heads for the next four years.

approved the creation of a new three-way stop at the intersection of Independent and Cherry streets at the request of resident Jessie Shields who said the intersection is blind when coming off of Independent and there’s also an issue with speeders in the area.

approved the installation of rumble strips at the four-way stop at West College Street and Foster Park where Ward 4 Alderman Carolyn Miller said she’s heard numerous concerns over speeding.

agreed to seek costs on replacement of sidewalks on Stanley Street after Miller said she’s had concerns raised by residents about their safety walking in the area.

accepted the resignations of police officer Ray Jennings, police officer Shawn Glissen, gas and water employee Hunter Hoard and city hall administrative assistant Ashley Houston.

approved seeking applications for the post of administrative assistant and for a sergeant in the fire department.

approved seeking bids for the financing of the police department project.

approved up to $5,000 for the removal and replacement of sidewalks in the area of the new pocket park beside the Hardware Building with funds coming from the tourism tax fund.

approved promoting Ashley White to the rank of lieutenant in the fire department, hiring Thomas Mynatt as a full-time police officer, Brandon Wright as a full-time police officer and Gabe George as a full-time meter reader.

approved the purchase of a tractor for the street department at the state contract price of $53,685.34 from Chickasaw Equipment.

Local police assist in human trafficking arrests

The Booneville Police Department was among numerous area agencies assisting the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation in a major human trafficking bust recently.

The MBI reports an undercover investigation in Lee County led to the arrests of eight individuals and the identification of seven human trafficking victims.

Booneville Police Chief Michael Ramey said he was glad to be able to provide assistance.

“Any time we can help other agencies we’re glad to provide any assistance we can,” said Ramey.

The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol, Tupelo Police Department, National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, Booneville Police Department, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Restore Corps Memphis, Center for Violence Prevention, and the Office of the Mississippi Attorney General assisted in the operation, which resulted in the arrests of the following individuals:

Dewayne K. Davis, 51, was charged with Child Exploitation.

Noe Andres Muz, 34, was charged with Child Exploitation.

Keelan Jerome Smithy, 30, was charged with Child Exploitation.

Willis Dewayne Traylor, 40, was charged with 2 counts of possession of methamphetamines and cocaine.

Bobby Wade Green, 54, was charged with Promoting Prostitution.

Keenan Hardy, 32, had three felony warrants for Domestic Violence out of Illinois and was arrested for extradition.

Two more were charged with Promoting Prostitution, and their names will be released upon arrest.

“My administration will do whatever it takes to bring human traffickers to justice, and this operation sends a message that we won’t stand idly by while they exploit those who are most vulnerable,” said Governor Tate Reeves. “Human traffickers should think twice before stepping foot into Mississippi.”

“The Mississippi Department of Public Safety, in conjunction with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, will continue to collaborate with local, state, and federal agencies to put an end to human trafficking in Mississippi,” said Commissioner Sean Tindell. “Our agency is committed to referring human trafficking victims to dedicated services and arresting the criminals behind their exploitation.”

“Human trafficking has no place in Mississippi. And, traffickers need to know that our women and children are off limits,” said Attorney General Lynn Fitch. “I am grateful for dedicated law enforcement officers, like those at the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, for their continued partnership in protecting the vulnerable. And, our work doesn’t end when the operation ends. We must support and empower victims to move forward without shame or blame. Our efforts will always be victim-first as we connect recovered individuals with the tools and resources they need to build a new life with hope and dignity.”

If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.