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Events in county causing overtime for deputies

The summer holidays, festivals and other events will provide many opportunities for residents to enjoy themselves, but some events have some residents concerned.

Sheriff Joe Stuart presented to the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors his projections for the use of overtime by his deputies to help cover some county events including, being the Fourth of July celebration in McNeill and a concert to take place this weekend at the Haas-cienda Ranch in Poplarville.

Stuart plans to have officers on patrol and to utilize check points in the area. Apparently there was some resistance to the concert in the area because supervisors and Poplarville City Hall employees have received complaints concerning the upcoming concert, Stuart said. He said there are no regulations prohibiting the concert to feature performers Afroman, 2ZiggZaggs and PoBoy from taking place. As long as the show does not step over regulations pertaining to a crowd of less than 1,000 people and time restrictions on the concert taking place no later than 11 p.m., the concert will take place, Stuart said. No action was taken on the matter.

Salvaged lumber from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina could be used to do some building, except that the wood has not been properly inspected by officials. Mississippi state Rep. Herb Frierson suggested the board amend the county building codes to include the possibility of using such lumber for building, after the new building codes were adopted on state’s order. District IV Supervisor Robert Thigpen found a major problem with Frierson’s proposal since it was his office that sent down the order to adopt the codes. In addition, if the codes are changed for one instance then other residents will also want to make changes to suit their needs, Thigpen said.

“This is enough to start enforcing on people … and then you start changing it,” Thigpen said.

Kirk Pichon, chief building inspector for Pearl River County, said a home owner could have an official grade the lumber at their expense. Wise asked Pichon to look into the matter and present it to the board at a next meeting.

Emergency Management Director Bobby Strahan said he had a fire fighters association meeting with seven of the 12 county fire chiefs andthey did not request a burn ban at this time.

The fire departments also discussed during the meeting installing fuel tanks at each volunteer department for fuel storage in emergencies. Board president Danny Wise said those tanks could be used year round to keep costs down. If the tanks are to be installed, it would be done at each department’s expense and fuel stored in the tanks would be the responsibility of the department each time it is audited, Wise said. Thigpen said if the departments decide to put those tanks above ground, insurance rates will be high. District I Supervisor Anthony Hales said that there could be a security problem with those tanks at each station.

“You’d have to stand guard over that stuff with guns to keep the pubic out of it,” he said.

While installation cost would be higher, Wise thought it would be more secure to put the tanks below ground.

Strahan presented a possible suitable temporary location for his office since the temporary trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency are not designed to ride out a storm. Since it may take up to two years to get funding to build a new office, Strahan said he found a building for rent with a storage building. The board will look into it further so took no action.

County resident Russell Penton recently lost his father, Picayune barber Willie Ray Penton, so he wants to memorialize him by dedicating of a section of U.S. 11. Penton discussed the matter with state Rep. Mark Formby who is willing to help, but Formby suggested Penton get a letter of support from the board. Penton is looking to dedicate a section of the major road in Carriere to his father’s memory. Board attorney Nova Carroll, upon the board’s request, will contact Formby to get the required wording for the letter then draft it.

County resident Bobby Westmoreland has noticed a major problem with a bridge in the vicinity of Fox Trail Road, where he lives. Since the storm, the bridge and road were torn up by heavy trucks performing debris clean up, Westmoreland said. However, the board planned for just such an occurrence.

“We knew it was going to sustain damage so we set aside some money to fix it,” Thigpen said.

Westmoreland formed a petition to request the board put up some signs that state the weight limit of the bridge to avoid further damage to the bridge.

“I’ll pay for the signs, I’ll put them up,” Westmoreland said in desperation.

The board made the petition part of the minutes and approved installing the signs stating lowest legal weight limits.

District V Supervisor Bettye Stockstill said she attended a meeting with the Mississippi Department of Transportation to discuss work on U.S. 11. She said the reason work has not begun on a grand scale was because money was not earmarked to the project, instead it was diverted elsewhere. The county has been trying to have the major road widened to four lanes for years. The board will address Senators Thad Cochran and Trent Lott and Rep. Gene Taylor to earmark money for use on U.S. 11.

Tax Assessor Gary Beech presented county increases in property value to the board. Since the storm, 330 houses were added and the value of buildings in the county has increased by $33 million, Beech said. The increase was attributed to an increase in petroleum products, he said. In addition, land value has increased by $37 million with 410 new parcels assessed. Some were changed from agricultural to residential, increasing their value, Beech said.

“So overall we’re going to have an increase this year in our assessed value,” Beech said.

The board acknowledged receipt of land rolls.

The board also went into executive session on personnel matters for about 45 minutes. When they opened the session again, they decided to meet the individual in question with action to be taken at a later date.

In other business the board:

— Approved financing for a trackhoe in the Road Department.

— Authorized board president to sign the lease agreement for the trackhoe in the Road Department.

— Authorized the drafting of a memo concerning use of county employee private vehicles for county business to require sufficient insurance provided by the owner.

— Approved travel for election commissioners who worked the first primary with the new voting machines to attend a workshop in Lyman, Miss., on July 21.

The board adjourned until 9 a.m. Monday, July 10.