Mayor adds secretary for third less than Burks was paid

Published 11:42 am Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A new secretary will begin work today in the mayor’s office, just a week after the elimination of the $72,000-per-year position of the mayor’s chief of staff who oversaw the office’s daily operations.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted in Monday’s closed session following its regular meeting to hire Jacqueline Walker as a secretary to Mayor Paul Winfield.

Walker was hired at a rate of $12.12 per hour, or $25,209.60 per year, interim human resources director Walterine Langford said, and will perform secretarial duties in the office including clerical work and coordinating the mayor’s schedule. Walker’s position is not a supervisory one.

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Winfield said Walker is not related to former Vicksburg Mayor Robert Walker.

Last week, the mayor’s chief of staff, Kenya Burks, who performed daily functions in the mayor’s office to “further the administration’s agenda,” was left without a job when the board eliminated her position. Winfield abstained from that vote.

The termination came two weeks after the board’s decision to pay Burks $9,701.59 in overtime pay for hours she logged from June 2009 through January 2011.

In addition to Walker, the mayor’s staff includes Marie Thompson, the city’s director of intergovernmental policy, and Seyshan Lewis, a Jackson State University student who was hired a month ago in a part-time position at minimum wage.

In other business, the board OK’d Monday the purchase of six new patrol cruisers for the Vicksburg Police Department for $125,724 — bringing the police department’s number of cars to 82.

Six 2011 Dodge Chargers are being purchased from Howard Wilson Chrysler-Jeep in Jackson, a state contractor — a purchase allocated in the department’s $6.1 million budget.

“We’re very grateful for the six that we are getting,” Vicksburg police Chief Walter Armstrong said, adding he had requested 12 vehicles. “These six cars will not put us where we need to be. New cars need to be purchased every year to maintain a workable fleet.”

During the last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, the city purchased 16 new police cars. The new vehicles will replace cruisers that have logged more than 100,000 miles, Armstrong said.

The replaced vehicles might be used as spare cars, given to low-ranking officers or be sold at the next city auction.