New manager hired for Vicksburg Farmers’ Market

Published 11:56 am Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Master Gardener was hired Monday as marketing manager for Vicksburg Farmers’ Market.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 2-0 to approve a contract with Sonny Hale to run the market at $21 per hour, not to exceed $13,860, through Sept. 30, 2013, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that funds his position expires. South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman was not at the meeting because of illness.

The Farmers’ Market closed Saturday for the summer, but market coordinator Kristin Meehan said a fall market will begin Oct. 6 and run through November.

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A $47,823 U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmers’ Market Promotion Grant provides the money for a marketing manager and assistant manager who are hired as private contractors. The city hired a manager and assistant manager in March, but both resigned in May, forcing the board to readvertise in June for both jobs. Hale, 69, was the only person to apply for either position.

City grants coordinator Marcia Weaver said the board will readvertise for an assistant manager, but did not say when.

“We want to wait until we get Mr. Hale on board,” she said.

Under the grant agreement, the marketing manager is responsible for recruiting farmers and vendors for the market, holding training workshops for farmers and vendors, keeping an inventory of supplies and monitoring and recording customer and vendor participation.

Hale retired from the Vicksburg Fire Department in 1994, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection in 2006. He has been a Master Gardener since 2009, and developed the vegetable section in the Master Gardeners’ demonstration garden at the Vicksburg National Military Park.

“They couldn’t have made a better choice,” Master Gardener president Betty Jackson said.

He replaces Candace Palmertree, who resigned May 17. Dwan J. Henderson, the assistant manager, resigned May 9.

In other action, the board authorized applying for a $150,000 Homeland Security Grant to buy and install diesel generators at the Ellis Building and Central Fire Station, both on Walnut Street.

Weaver said the grant will provide money to install a 150-kilowatt generator at the Ellis Building, which is adjacent to the Vicksburg Police Department, and a 100-kilowatt generator for the fire station, on Walnut Street.