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Booneville official wants more minority hires

Reported by: Susan Parker
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Updated: 2/27/2014 8:36 pm
BOONEVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) -- Collette Gardner has 18 years under her belt working for the City of Booneville's Parks and Recreation Department.

She is proud of her accomplishments and believes it leaves a good impression on young people.

"If they see more minorities, they see that they can do the same thing," said Gardner.

The city employs around 130 people. There are a total of eleven African Americans employed.

"It's not equal enough as far as between the two, and I would like to see more people of color and more minorities hired," Gardner added.

That's how Booneville Mayor Pro Tem and Alderman Jeff Williams feels.

"We have a good mayor and board in this town and I think they're gonna work this issue out," Williams added.

Mayor Derrick Blythe says anyone can apply for a job. Applications are turned in to department heads who then make recommendations. It is then up to the board to make the final decision.

His position is clear. Mayor Blythe wants to hire more minorities, but he says skill criteria takes priority.

"We're here to hire the best qualified and the most skilled individuals," said Mayor Blythe.

Booneville Fire Chief Jerry Wallace says full time fire department positions require passage of physical and mental tests.

He's open to anyone. The chief says he's only had two minorities apply during the last three years.

"There should be a desire to get our level up-good, qualified people," said Chief Wallace.

Williams believes there's more room for minorities throughout the city whether it's entry-level positions or those that require more skills or experience.

"It's very important to hire somebody with skills, but let's be more diverse about it," Williams added.

Williams believes more on-the-job training may help.

He's counting on his fellow board members to bring ideas to the table.
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