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New Public Works director says he plans to resign

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Oct. 9, 2001
Meridian's new Public Works director said Monday he plans to resign after about a week on the job and less than a month after being appointed by Mayor John Robert Smith.
William E. "Bill" Stewart would not discuss his reason for resigning, saying only that he is "extremely disappointed." Stewart said he and city leaders discussed no alternatives to resigning.
Smith said today that he had not received a resignation letter by the time he left his office between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday. Smith said he would know more if and when he receives Stewart's resignation.
Ken Storms, Meridian's chief administrative officer, said he also hadn't seen a resignation letter. Asked Monday about Stewart's intentions to resign, Storms said: "All we've got is speculation. I don't have a letter here on my desk."
Many responsibilities
Stewart, whose appointment was approved Sept. 18 by a 3-2 city council vote, was hired as director of the Public Works Department after serving as deputy director of McComb's Public Works Department. He was scheduled to start Oct. 1.
The Public Works director is a high-profile position whose responsibilities include maintaining city streets, drainage systems and sewerage systems. The job had been vacant since former Public Works Director Benny Wolfe resigned effective July 3.
Smith said last month that he appointed Stewart to the job because he has the "leadership skills, the administrative skills and the organizational skills." Smith said Stewart also was a private business owner for nine years.
Ronnie Lindsey, McComb's Public Works director, said last week that he hoped he could find someone as qualified as Stewart to fill the position he left to take the Meridian job.
Stewart's work
Lindsey said that while with the McComb Public Works Department, Stewart worked with division superintendents to develop better accountability. Lindsey said Stewart also helped modernize the department, using Meridian's computer and work order systems as models.
Meridian City Councilmen Bobby Smith of Ward 5 and Jesse Palmer Sr. of Ward 4 said they had no problem with Stewart even though they opposed his hiring. Smith and Palmer said they believed in promoting or hiring from within the city.
Bobby Smith said he would like to see Wolfe back in the position.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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