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Water district refuses to bend on church’s water bill

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Bishop Thomas H. Reed Sr. (photo from video by Thomas Parker)

This past Wednesday, April 21, Vicksburg Daily News publisher David Day was contacted by Warren County District 5 Supervisor Kelle Barfield in regards to an ongoing issue that a church in her district was having. Her call was followed by a similar call from District 55 State Representative Oscar Denton.

Our investigation has revealed that during the ice storm that occurred in our area in February, a pipe burst under the family life center at Wayside Apostolic Church of Deliverance located at 4615 Halls Ferry Road. The leak went undetected for several days. Due to the extensive use of water, the church received a bill from Hilldale Water District for $3833.28.

The church has asked the water district for some form of relief with this very high bill, and their request was denied.

Mr. Day spoke with the General Manager for the water district and confirmed that the circumstances were correct surrounding the bill and that the district remains firmly in its position that the bill was owed and should be paid.  George Hunt, President of the Board for Hilldale Water District, stated that the district has a firm policy of not forgiving bills of any form, however, they would allow the balance to pay over the course of a year without additional interest.

Hunt further stated that the district had fulfilled its obligations by getting water to the meter and what happened on the other side of the meter was the customer’s responsibility. Hunt has been a member of the Hilldale board for over 25 years.

The water district’s website has a written policy regarding this type of issue.

On Friday, April 23, we visited with church pastor Bishop Thomas H. Reed Sr. and learned that the church has a predominantly elderly congregation, all of which are on fixed incomes. “We are down to just a few members who are attending. The financial burden is too great for this congregation.”

Their small congregation has dwindled significantly due to COVID-19.

Vicksburg businessman Thad Pratt has graciously agreed to make the repairs needed to the plumbing and appears to be doing the repairs at cost.

We are asking that the community join us in assisting this church with their needs. Vicksburg always comes together when there is a need. The Vicksburg Daily News has set up a GoFundMe to assist the church.

If you can find it in your heart to donate what you can afford, please visit the GoFundMe dedicated to helping relieve this church of this financial burden.

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