Jackson considering contractors to help maintain water billing system

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Days after the city of Jackson brought on a firm to help it draw up plans for a new water billing system, Jackson is looking at bringing on two contractors to help maintain the existing one.

text, whiteboard: WLBT

© Provided by Jackson WLBT

The city council is considering two maintenance agreements, both of which members are expected to vote on at their October 13 meeting.

The first contract is with Mueller Systems, a $270,000, six-month deal to allow the firm to maintain the city’s “meter data management software.”

The other is with Keystone Utility Systems, to provide maintenance to meters and other billing system infrastructure in the field. That contract is for $146,000 and also will run for six months.

Both contracts also include the option to extend.

City officials likely will need to extend them, with public works officials saying it could take 12 to 18 months to put a new billing system in place.

The council’s Water and Sewer Infrastructure Ad-Hoc Committee discussed the proposals at its October 8 meeting.

Mueller was one of the subcontractors working on the Siemens contract. The city has claimed that the subcontractor knowingly installed faulty meters as part of the work.

Siemens was brought on in 2013 to completely overhaul the city’s water billing system. Work included replacing tens of thousands of water meters across Jackson, installing new software at the billing office and a new communications network to transmit meter data to the billing office.

Citing complications with the system, Jackson sued Siemens in 2019. Earlier this year, the city settled its suit with the firm for approximately $90 million.

Even with that suit was ongoing, the city continued to work with the Massachusetts-based Mueller to help address bugs with the system. Many of those bugs still

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Where the Jackson Planetarium renovation stands

Jackson leaders say fundraising for the Russel C. Davis Planetarium renovation is running slightly ahead of schedule in spite of the pandemic.

a view of a city at night: Planetarium plan

Planetarium plan

The planetarium closed its doors more than two years ago. During an exclusive tour shortly after, the dated exhibits and water damage caused by a leaking roof were evident.

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“Kids would get off the elevator and ‘Oooh and ahh,’ and that’s always kind of bolstered my plans to get this place to where we want it to be,” said Planetarium Manager Mike Williams.

Williams is concentrating now on work happening outside. Along with Deputy Cultural Services Director David Lewis, he is raising money to remodel the 40-year-old attraction.

“We received a wonderful amount from the Hinds County delegation, from the state of Mississippi, and we’ve been applying for grants, and we’re also talking to businesses about sponsorship, as well. It is slower, but we’re still very hopeful,” Lewis said.

Lewis hopes the new planetarium will include an open-air learning space and an after-hours learning center for corporate meetings.

“Typically, these kinds of facilities don’t generate a lot of revenue, however, that is part of our plan sustainability,” Williams said.

But in a city struggling to cover infrastructure repairs and fight crime, there are naysayers.

“This is going to happen. We’ve already raised 25% of committed funds and at any point we don’t reach a goal, we will pivot and there will be a planetarium,” Lewis said.

Lewis and Williams visited some of the best space exhibits in the country to get ideas for the planetarium, but they said they’ll scale back if they have to before they’ll call the project off. Williams said the goal of a new facility by the city’s bicentennial in spring of 2022 is

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Jackson Hilton Garden Inn unveils renovation | MS Business Journal

Hilton Garden Inn

Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown Jackson

The Hilton Garden Inn Jackson Downtown, an iconic historic hotel located in the heart of the city center, has completed renovations to its 7,321 square feet of meeting and event space, 186 guest rooms, full-service restaurant and bar, lobby and fitness center. A Mississippi Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and formerly known as the King Edward Hotel, the property is a symbol of Jackson’s downtown Renaissance and continues its legacy of offering classic charm and warm Southern hospitality to today’s travelers from around the world.  

Completed in July 2020 and designed to retain the hotel’s historical elegance, the renovations infuse a vibrant ambiance that resonates throughout the property. Nine meeting rooms and pre-function spaces, capable of hosting groups up to 300, received new carpeting, wallcoverings, seating, lighting, and window treatments. The venue space was expanded with the addition of a multi-function room on the ground floor featuring a polished look with high ceilings and windows accompanied by the original flooring.  

Adorned with new furnishings and wall finishes, the revamped historic lobby houses The Shop, a new all-hours market offering snacks, sandwiches, cold beverages, and a selection of sundries. Guestrooms received new carpeting, wallcoverings, window treatments, updated seating upholsteries, light fixtures, and the addition of new 49” televisions. Rooms are equipped with a refrigerator, Keurig coffee maker, and microwave. The guest bathroom mirrors were refreshed with LED backlighting.

King Edward Bar and Grille, the hotel’s destination bar and restaurant, was transformed with new furnishings, carpeting, wallcoverings, floor tiling, window treatments, light fixtures, a fully updated buffet area, and the addition of large screen televisions in the bar. The restaurant serves made-to-order breakfast, lunch and dinner from a menu showcasing Southern cuisine and American classics with a selection of craft

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