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Lowndes Supervisors Meeting

The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors met for their middle of the month meeting inside the boardroom of the Lowndes County Courthouse this past Friday, July 15th. The supervisors tackled a number of agenda items.
County Road Coordinator Demetrious Council came before the board to seek approval of two road names for E911 purposes. The two private roads were Hargrove Circle and Hargrove Drive, both of which are located in District 4. The road names were accepted unanimously.
Link CEO Joe Higgins was next up before the supervisors. Higgins came armed with a resolution on the Aurora project. It was a resolution of ‘no protest’, which Higgins had explained that the notice had ran in the legals of the paper for 4 weeks involving the issuance of up to $9 million in bonds on the Aurora project. The resolution certifies that there was no protest to the project and the supervisors will approve and pass the bonds. Higgins said this action will lead to the next supervisors meeting in which he will likely bring documents to move the project forward.
The supervisors approved the resolution unanimously. Higgins told the supes that, “as part of this funding package, there is also an airport revitalization loan…and that’s what Mr. Hainsey (Mike, GTRA Executive Director) has for ya’ll.”
“Good morning,” Hainsey began as he stepped to the podium. “As Mr. Higgins said, part of the package includes an airport revitalization loan and incentives. It includes the airport taking out a $300,000 revitalization loan from the Mississippi Development Authority. Your meeting in June, you approved a resolution of intention…it’s been advertised for 4 weeks. To our knowledge there has been no protest, so, today we request that you pass a resolution of ‘no protest’ and that will allow us to finish the application process.”
The supervisors passed that resolution, also unanimously.
George Crawford (Golden Triangle Planning & Development Project Analyst) was next up before the supervisors to set up a public hearing date for the Home Program Workshop. The public hearing was set for August 4th at 10:00 a.m. inside the boardroom of the Lowndes County Courthouse.
Crawford was seeking a second public hearing (a follow-up hearing) on the CDBG North Steel Development Project. That hearing was set for August 15th (there will be a supervisor board meeting that day). The hearing was set for 9:05 that morning.
The last item Crawford addressed before the supervisors was an engineering contract for the Kior Road project. Crawford explained that the supervisors would be approving expenditures to pay the engineer of the project. County Administrator Ralph Billingsley further explained that the supervisors needed to concur or ratify the expenditures, some kind of action from the board because the county is actually applying for the DIP grant and not the Port. (The Port already holds a contract with the engineer).
Board President Harry Sanders made a motion that the county approve the use of the Port engineer. The vote was unanimous. (the Port engineer is Neel-Schaffer. RW)
Next up before the board was Kenneth McFarland. McFarland brought forth a resolution in honor of the Pastor of the Genesis Church, Darren R. Leach. McFarland said that Leach will celebrate his 4th anniversary as pastor on August 7th at the old Hughes School building.
McFarland went on to read the resolution to the supervisors. Sanders made the motion to accept the resolution, seconded by District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks. It passed unanimously.
Sheriff Butch Howard was next up with discussion of the E911 towers at the courthouse. Howard said discussion took place at the last E911 board meeting that concluded that moving or dismantling the towers would not be possible because the towers have antennas that deal with the county storm sirens. Howard said there were other live antennas as well attached with the courthouse towers. He said that there appeared to be a problem with several cables and lines coming into the building that were grounded separately. Howard had been told that the cables all needed to be bonded or tied together and put to one ground. The E911 board would be seeking individuals (or a company) who could perform the project and Howard told the supervisors that the county and the city would likely have to share the cost of the project.
The board concluded that the various agencies that the lines and cables were associated with were E911, Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Services. Howard told the board that he believed the cost of the project would not be so great as to have to advertise in the paper.
County Administrator Ralph Billingsley was next up before the board. He updated the supervisors on the status of trying to place weather alert sirens throughout the county. Billingsley had checked to see if there were any grant money available for the sirens and found out there was not. He said the cost of the sirens were approximately $16,000 to $17,000 each (20 sirens are being proposed) with a total cost of between $325,000 to $350,000.
When discussion took place between the board considering allocating money for the sirens, District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks suggested that the county, “go ahead and bite the bullet and get it done. We have no way knowing when the next storm will come, it may be tonight. We’ve recognized the problems we’ve had…just like when we talked about putting shelters in the county barns…whether it’s $350,000 or $500,000, we’re talking about allocating money to protect lives and property. You know, I don’t know how you put a dollar and cents on it.”
“I think one of the most important things we can do is something to protect peoples lives.” added Brooks. “So, if it’s $350,000, we need to go ahead and bite the bullet, make the committment and go ahead and do it.”
District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith concurred. “We’ve been discussing this for some time…and I realize money is an issue…but when we talk about safety and people lives, we can’t put a dollar value on that. I remember when the storm hit up in Caledonia, there was a great cry to address our warning systems. To try and make some improvements. We talked about that openly at several meetings that I attended. Though we can’t do anything about the storms, we can do something about the warnings and the process of making people aware.”
Sanders then asked Billingsley if he and Dave (Basinger, CFO) would crunch the budget numbers to see if the county could consider possibly allocating enough money to do 10 sirens this year and 10 next year.
Billingsley also brought forth, for approval by the board, a lease of office space for the County Extension Office from the Tenn-Tom Waterway Development Authority. A 5 year lease at $700 a month, with utilities provided by the Authority, was set up. Billingsley said the lease agreement with Tenn-Tom also included a 5 year option of renewal at the end of the original 5 years. The lease agreement will begin on August 1st of this year.
At the end of regular business, the supervisors decided to recess the meeting until July 25th at 9 a.m. (because of a public hearing on personal property tax assessment rolls to be held that morning). The next scheduled meeting will be on August 1st at 9 a.m.


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