The supervisors met for their middle of the month board meeting inside the boardroom at the Lowndes County Courthouse, Monday.
Golden Triangle Planning & Development Home Program Specialist Patsy Patterson came before the board to give the supervisors an update on the home program applications. She said that District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith had taken some applications to a few individuals in his district that may qualify.
Patterson then gave an update on the North Steel Development project at the Lowndes Industrial Park. The board entered into an open hearing on the project and asked if anyone was present that may have questions or concerns. No one spoke up. The hearing was then closed.
Chief Financial Officer Dave Basinger came before the board to gain approval for the Claims Docket ending on August 15th. He also presented the board with the July 2011 financial statements and the June 2011 State prisoner report. In the absence of County Administrator Ralph Billingsley, Basinger also announced an opening on the Lowndes County Industrial Development Authority board (to fill Terrell Landrum’s seat). The board seat is an at-large position. Basinger said they will take applications until the next board meeting (on August 29th), at that time announce the applicants and then the supes will vote on it.
City of Columbus Special Assistant to Director of Federal Programs George Irby was next up before the board. Irby began, “Good morning…I’ve come to ask you for some money,” to the sound of some chuckles around the room.
“I’ve talked to most of ya’ll and I’ll try to make this quick. MDOT (Mississippi Department of Transportation) has a transportation enhancement project. Basically, it’s the same project that we used to build the Riverwalk. Now, we have an opportunity to tie the Riverwalk into the (new) Soccer Complex. And you, as a board, submitted an application last year to Wildlife & Fisheries for the same project but there wasn’t enough money available. So it is a project that you’re familiar with already.”
“The overall project is over $600,000, but the match, city and county, is about $62,000 each. I can get you some real numbers…but if you want to give the ok today, I’d say not more than $65,000. That would be your match on this project,” Irby told the supervisors.
Board President Harry Sanders asked Irby, “Can we match in-kind, or does it have to be cash money?”
“I think most of it has to be cash,” Irby responded. ‘I’m not clear on that…I know we have been able to do some in-kind before, but I think most of it has to be cash.”
Sanders then made a motion to split the match with the city, to which District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith seconded. The motion carried 4-0 (District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks wasn’t at the meeting. He had been called to testify at the federal trial in Aberdeen where former road department employee Howard Smart, who was also a recent candidate for District 4 supervisor but he was handily beaten by Jeff Smith, was suing the county after being fired previously. More on the trial in Ron Williams’ column).
County Engineer Robert (Bob) Calvert was next up. Calvert brought an AT&T permit request before the supervisors for a fiber optic cable on Mike Parra Road to which he recommended approval. The board did so unanimously.
Road Manager Ronnie Burns was scheduled next, But he also had been called to testify in the Howard Smart lawsuit.
County/City Tax Collector/Assessor Greg Andrews was next up before the board. Andrews seeked approval of a 1 Mill certification to be presented to the State Tax Commission. It was approved by the supervisors. Andrews said a mill was $501,000. Harry Sanders asked Andrews what all the money (mill) can be used for. Andrews explained that it can be used for personal property and real estate, which he said amounted to about $280,000 of the $521,000. He said the remainder is turned over to the general fund.
County Purchase Clerk Terry Thompson came before the supervisors. She said she had been asked by County Administrator Ralph Billingsley to obtain quotes for new Chancery Courtroom furniture. She said that judge’s chairs, defendant and attorney chairs needed to be replaced in Chancery Court. Thompson said she asked the inventory clerk when the last purchase for Chancery Court furniture was and was told it was December 9th, 1974. She said they had gotten 37 years out of the old furniture.
Thompson said the lowest bid received for the new chairs was $5,641.54. The supervisors were asked to amend the Chancery Court budget by that amount to allow the purchase. The supervisors approved the request unanimously.
Sheriff Butch Howard came before the supes to present the inmate meal log and to also inform the supervisors of the E911 commission board meeting trying to get proposals on companies to try and ground the E911 towers atop the county courthouse. Howard said from his discussions with various experts came the revelation that there was no guarantee (if they ground the towers) that lightning still wouldn’t be able to get into E911. Therefore, he said, it wouldn’t make sense to spend $8-9,000 on that remedy if it wasn’t going to solve the problem.
Howard said that the only company to actually quote the project recommended taking the towers down. Because as long as they are there, they would be a lightning rod. Howard said the commission was recommending forming a committee involving E911 commission members, supervisors and Emergency Management Director Cindy Lawrence.
Sanders recommended District 3 Supervisor John Holliman be on the committee because of his experience as a contractor. District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith was also appointed.
Howard said a meeting would be set up in the near future for more discussion on the matter.
Chancery Clerk Lisa Younger Neese was next up with the Sheriff report for the amount of $8,509.66. Neese also presented the Justice Court report, Civil – $19,486.23 and Criminal – $72,000.66.
Sanders presented a resolution to be approved that would accept $7,000 from the Tombigbee River Valley Management District to pay for beaver control. The supervisors approved unanimously. Sanders also asked for approval for travel to Point Clear, Alabama to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Conference. (Sanders said he wasn’t going. Jeff Smith, John Holliman, Leroy Brooks, Board attorney Tim Hudson, Lisa Neese and others will attend, though. Prior approval by the board is required by law).
The board recessed until their next scheduled meeting, Monday, August 29th at 9 a.m. 0