During their last meeting of 2012, the Clay County Board of Supervisors discussed additional security at the courthouse, was introduced to a new K-9 officer and discussed strategic planning.
District 1 Supervisor Lynn Horton asked about adding security to the courthouse.
“With all these tragedies going on, maybe we need to talk about adding some security to the courthouse,” he said. “I just saw something on the television about some firemen being called to a house and then being killed. I wondered if there was more we could be doing.”[Two firefighters were killed and several wounded Dec. 24 in an attack in New York state. – Brian Jones]
“We are going to address that issue,” said Chancery Clerk Amy Berry. “I have a tentative proposal. [Sheriff Eddie Scott] and [Circuit Clerk Bob Harrell] helped me put it together. We need to do something soon, because the courthouse will be heavily trafficked during the first part of the year. Court will be in session, and people will be coming in to pay taxes.”
Berry submitted a written proposal, which the supervisors took under advisement and plan to discuss at a future meeting. [The details were not made public, but presumably will be addressed when the board takes the matter up in the future. – Brian Jones]
Sheriff Eddie Scott introduced the supervisors to the newest member of his department: Kilo the drug dog.
A concerned citizen donated Kilo to the department, Scott said.
“It’s not like it was 10 years ago,” Scott said. “Ten years ago people still left their doors unlocked when they went to church. Now it’s very different. We’ve got to protect ourselves in everything we do. Drugs are a huge problem in our community. At the sheriff’s department we do not have a narcotics unit, but our guys have still made some pretty good cases this past year. We’ve got a great relationship with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and the Drug Enforcement Agency. There’s a lot we’ve done that hasn’t made the newspaper. We’re trying to be a lot more proactive with drugs.
“A good dog will cost $9,000 or $10,000 and there’s no way our department could afford that,” Scott said. “But a concerned citizen has seen the good things we’ve been doing and has stepped up and donated a drug dog to Clay County. We took the dog last week to Mississippi State to get it checked out, and we took it to Tupelo to get it certified by the drug training program.”
Kilo is a three-year-old Dutch shepherd, Scott said. She is trained to sniff out cocaine, amphetamines and marijuana.
“We’re going to try to get sponsors in the community to help us maintain the dog,” Scott said. “If she’s not healthy, she’s not going to be effective.”
The donor wished to remain anonymous, Scott said.
District 4 Supervisor Shelton Deanes asked the board to consider making a long-range plan. He said he wanted to begin planning now for future upgrades to the Henry Harris Building (the former Daily Times Leader building), which is currently being used as a District 4 voting precinct.
“There are grants out there all the time, and we need to start applying for those grants,” Deanes said. “We need to start thinking about the future. We have the Henry Harris Building now, and we can use that to add a third courtroom down the line. We also have a lot of space upstairs. We can use that for a whole lot more than just storage. We need to start looking at some plans of things we can do in the future…like we can’t use the upstairs right now because it’s not handicapped accessible. We got the elevator here in the courthouse through grants through the [Golden Triangle Planning and Development District]. There’s a lot of room up there, and the courthouse is really jammed up. This room we’re in now is too small. We could move the superintendent of education into the Harris building, and free up that space for circuit court and the circuit clerk.
“I think we need to start now and look to the future instead of waiting until we get some money and then trying to plan,” Deanes said. “Plan before you do. It’s like planting a seed. You’ve got to plant a seed before anything starts to happen. Let’s start planting our seeds. We need to give the people something. You go to other counties that are just as poor as Clay County, but they have nice courthouses and justice court buildings. Calhoun County doesn’t have any more money than we do, but look at the nice building they have. We can do more, but we need to get out and look for it.”
District 2 Supervisor Luke Lummus was skeptical.
“A lot of those things you’re talking about, those grants, we can’t get them because we don’t have enough low to moderate income people,” Lummus said. “We can’t get those grants if the majority of the people using it aren’t low to moderate income. A lot of that stuff we want to do, we don’t have the funds…we don’t want to put more of a burden on the taxpayers than is already on them. We went up this year just to keep the quality of service the same. One mill only brings in $110,000. I’m not going to take no cussing out from these people who are seeing a big jump in their taxes. I can’t sit here and vote to do more when we got people out there that is barely making it.
“I feel that I’ve done my job to represent the taxpayers of District 2 and to economize and do the most with what we’ve got to work with,” Lummus said. “We can try to do more, but we’ll just push it back on the taxpayer.”
Deanes stuck to his guns and suggested holding work sessions to discuss ideas.
“If you don’t start planning to move forward, you’re sitting in a mud hole,” Deanes said. “We’ve got the Link, and we believe that jobs are going to come. But when they do come, what are you going to do? Are you just going to spend, or are you going to have plans to move the county forward as a whole?
“District 4 is a poor district,” Deanes said. “That’s your loophole when you start talking about income. We can get the money coming into District 4. When you look at the Harris Building, that building’s just as big as the courthouse. Are we going to use it? We need to make plans so when the money comes we’ll be ready for it.”
No action was taken.