Mississippi College Offers $2,500 Reward Following Dorm Fire
January 18, 2009Mississippi College students are expected to return to Chrestman Hall late Monday afternoon following a weekend fire that closed the residence hall.
MC leaders on Sunday also announced they are adding $1,500 to the $1,000 reward in place from the state fire marshal for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the blaze. At this point, there have been no arrests.
The Clinton Fire Department is working with the state fire marshal's office on the investigation of the Saturday afternoon fire that evidently started in the basement of the residence hall. There were no injuries to MC students.
From beefing up campus security to the increased reward, MC leaders are taking it seriously. Extra officers will immediately begin to patrol the Clinton campus. Additional MC counseling services will be made available early this week.
"Our primary concern is the safety of our students," said Jim Turcotte, vice president for enrollment management and student affairs, who met with other MC officials, including campus security leaders Sunday afternoon. "Our staff was well prepared to implement our emergency plan in place," added Turcotte. "We're not ignoring the issue."
Students living on the top three floors are permitted to begin returning about 4 p.m. Monday.
Extensive clean-up work on the weekend−from mopping floors to wiping down walls and sprucing up bathrooms continued throughout the holiday weekend. Among those cleaning were twin brothers, Chandler and Andy Rives of Madison. The two Holmes Community College students work for an area cleaning company owned by their father, Raney Rives. His sons both plan to enroll as MC business students next fall.
MC leaders say they want to ensure that the air quality is safe before the Chrestman Hall residents return. An area company was hired to test the air quality. The building's basement, however, will remain closed indefinitely. Students with their room key and campus identification card will be allowed to pick up their belongings Monday.
Concerns about air quality led MC officials to close the building. At the time, there were 50 students in the residence hall. Most of its 210 male residents were away due to the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday Monday.
MC officials didn't estimate damage or clean-up costs. Students kept everything from clothing to textbooks to computers, TVs and other equipment in the building. Clinton firefighters responded to the fire about 2 p.m. Saturday.
Basement residents will be furnished with manpower and transportation to move them to other campus facilities. More than a dozen students were already relocated.
Further information about the MC response to the fire is posted on the university's Web site. Persons with any information to contribute to the investigation of the fire are urged to call the MC Office of Public Safety at 601.925.3204. Other questions can be directed to the Office of Student Affairs at 601.925.3359.
Photo: Raney, Chandler and Andy Rives