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Board says no burn ban

Residents have even longer to burn their storm debris and have no worries of celebrating the Fourth of July without fireworks next week.

With the impending holiday and many people investing money and time in fireworks, the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors decided not to reinstate a burn ban.

“If we were going to do it, we should have done it,” District III Supervisor Larry Davis said.

Davis’ statement reflects residents’ lengthy lapse of time between a burn ban issuance to when it is actually recognized. District IV Supervisor Robert Thigpen said it seems to take about two months after a burn ban issuance before residents take heed. The county may be able to use the reverse 911 calling system to inform the public of future burn bans, Thigpen said, and get quicker citizen compliance.

Thigpen said the two fire chiefs in his district have not requested a burn ban at this time. Later in the meeting Emergency Management Director Bobby Strahan said he heard differently at a volunteer fire chiefs’ meeting he attended Monday.

Strahan said that eight fire chiefs of the 12 in the county attended the meeting and they requested reinstatement of the burn ban.

The board made its decision not to reinstate the burn ban before Strahan arrived at the board meeting Tuesday morning. After Strahan presented his case, the board decided not to change its earlier decision. The board does ask residents to shoot fireworks in open areas away from debris.

“Extreme caution is urged during this fireworks season,” Thigpen said.

If residents are responsible for a fire, they will be held accountable for any charges or damages resulting from it. Strahan said if the Mississippi Forestry Commission has to come and put out the fire, a bill will be sent to the resident to cover expenses of the call.

Thigpen asks residents living in Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer parks to not shoot off fireworks in the park. A potentially dangerous situation could arise if a fire breaks out in a travel trailer park, Thigpen said. He asked Julie Flowers of the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department to send units to those parks to monitor the situation, which she agreed to do.

The office of the superintendent of the Pearl River County School District still awaits rebuilding. Superintendent Dennis Penton said the district is ready to finalize movement of all of his office’s contents to the temporary location provided by FEMA. Penton asked the board when a new building would be constructed since the district administration’s evacuation from the old location was holding up the process of building a new one. The board decided not to try to fix the old building since it has sustained substantial rain damage after Hurricane Katrina damaged the roof. Penton said he suspects there may even be water in the walls, possibly ensuring the eventual destruction of the building.

FEMA and the insurance company have conducted their assessments of the building and FEMA has sent in their reimbursement, County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said.

A new building will probably take about two years to build with plans still to be drawn, Penton said. The board decided to get the building appraised to determine if they will fix the building then sell it or just sell it as is. In about two weeks Penton and the board will meet to determine what will happen with the building and where to proceed from there.

Clean up is still underway in the county, said Brooks Wallace with Dungan Engineering. There are still 11.2 miles of road to clean and 117 eligible right of entries to perform.

“Debris clean up is coming to an end real quick,” Wallace said.

On another note, Wallace said that Ford’s Creek Road, where county engineers are working on the road, will be ready for asphalt by the end of the week.

The board went in to executive session twice on personnel matters. Following the first one, the board approved adding personnel in the Geographic Information System office. Following the second executive session, it approved payroll with exceptions in the Justice Department due to the way it was turned in, Lumpkin said.

— Authorized repairs to the light system at Walkiah Bluff Water Park area.

— Approved hiring Steven Strausbaugh in to the Building Code Department.

— Approved a dumpster for Walkiah Bluff Water Park camp ground area.

— Approved Dungan Engineering invoices for debris clean-up monitoring and ROE services.

— Acknowledged a donation check from Norfolk Southern.

— Approved final plat for Hickory Creek and Round Rock Phase III Subdivisions.

— Hired Linda Maddox to perform maintenance at Church of the Way for a 60-day trial period.

The board adjourned until 9 a.m. Monday.