City says Kuhn demolition work ‘on schedule’

Published 6:15 pm Saturday, December 15, 2018

The contractor hired to raze Kuhn Memorial Hospital is on schedule.

“M&M Services is going to meet the contract deadline for the (asbestos) abatement and demolition of the building,” community development director Victor Gray-Lewis said. “They are on schedule to complete the demolition and the abatement on or before the contact date.”

He said the asbestos abatement is expected to be completed near middle to end of January. Once the asbestos is removed, he said, M&M can begin with the demolition of the buildings.

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“The asbestos abatement is the part where we have to be very careful,” Gray-Lewis said. “The contractor has to be very meticulous about removing the hazardous material. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality provides oversight for the removal of the material, and that’s very time consuming.”

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen in September authorized Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to sign a contract with M&M to remove the asbestos and raze the buildings on the 12.8-acre property. Work began in December, and the company has 180 days to complete the work. M&M Services was the low bidder on the project with $749,990. The bid was $289,990 more than the $460,000 in Brownfields grant money available for the project, and the balance will be covered by city funds. A city-owned building, Kuhn was funded and operated by the State of Mississippi as a charity hospital until 1989.

In 1993, the building was considered as a possible veterans home, and in 1994, it was considered for a possible 38-bed adolescent psychiatric ward, and later considered as the possible site for a 100-bed clinic and assisted living center.

In 2000, the Lassiter-Studdard Group Inc., which owned the property at the time, donated it to the Esther Stewart Buford Foundation.

Since then, the property had been sold six times for taxes, and city officials tried for at least the past 10 years to get the property owner to clean the property and demolish or renovate the buildings on the site. The board on July 6 put the 12.8-acre property under the city’s slum clearance ordinance in a move to step up its efforts to remove the complex’s main building.

When the parties with an interest in the property failed to present plans to either raze or renovate the buildings by September, it cleared the way for the city to begin the process for their demolition.

The city officially took title to the Kuhn property Nov.1 after reaching agreements with the four parties that had interests in the property. The decision to acquire the property came after the board in April approved a resolution adopting and authorizing a 33-page urban renewal plan to first demolish the buildings on the property and clear it, then, begin the process of finding a developer or nonprofit agency to develop it into a multipurpose residential/commercial development with recreational facilities. Flaggs said several developer have expressed an interest in the property.


Mississippi man gets 3 years for stealing veteran’s ID

JACKSON. (AP) — A Mississippi man has been sentenced to three years in prison for stealing the identity of a U.S. military veteran and using it to get more than $130,000 in benefits. News outlets reported Senior U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee on Thursday also ordered 56-year-old Tierun Bush of Jackson to pay full restitution to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst says Bush was convicted of aggravated identity theft and theft of government funds and property.

Prosecutors say Bush used the name, Social Security number and other identifiers of the veteran to receive narcotics, medical care, medical equipment and housing help from the VA Department between 2005 and 2018.

Bush is not a military veteran, but was a long-time patient at a VA Medical Center in Jackson.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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