Controversial matters keep supervisors busy

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Dealings with the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, religious groups opposed to legalizing liquor and a neighborhood watch kept the county officials busy Monday morning.

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors also approved an agreement with Gulf Coast Mental Health to care for the county’s mental patients.

Some discussion of what to do with the solid waste plan and how the board should handle Waste Management’s coverage and footprint expansion proposal met with debate between Solid Waste Advisory Committee members Richard Swenson and Randy Holland.

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Swenson’s arguments were based mostly around the lack of county benefits for hosting a dumpsite that caters to the surrounding counties and parishes. His argument was not that there should be a lack of landfills, just not such a large one that covers so many surrounding areas.

“Landfills are necessary with the way we handle our garbage today,” Swenson said.

However, Swenson advised the board that they need to look for more benefits from Waste Management.

The next topic Swenson touched on was the footprint expansion. Waste Management would like to have a 47-acre foot print, something Swenson disagrees with.

“If we need more capacity we should do it incrementally,” Swenson said.

Swenson contests Waste Management’s statement that they are not getting enough tonnage, or garbage into the site. He said that other landfills comparable to Central Landfill in Millard in the state of Mississippi are operating at about the same tonnage. If the company needs more tonnage, Swenson argues that it will come with the increase in population in St. Tammany Parish, where the population has increased to about 70,000, and where most of the waste going into the site comes from. Those extra people will produce more garbage and give Waste Management the tonnage they need to stay viable,he said.

Holland said he is concerned that Central Landfill will close if Waste Management and the county can not come to an agreement. If that happens, then the county could revert to the way it was before Central Landfill was opened, which was illegal dumps county wide.

“We’ll go back to where we were in the early 90s,” Holland said.

Holland cautioned against altering the host agreement contract for more benefits or more host fees. He said if Waste Management paid a higher host fee to the county, it would increase costs to the customers or the carriers, which would also increase the cost to county residents. Holland also said that if Waste Management may close if it does not get the foot print and area expansion.

District I Supervisor Anthony Hales said that if Central Landfill does close, then the county will be left with a problem with what to do with the waste the county produces.

The board decided to take the recommendations of each committee member under consideration.

Now that liquor has been added to the referendum of the Nov. 7 election, the Citizens Action Team of Pearl River County addressed the board about their stance in urging voters to vote against it. Billy Galloway, CAT member, asaid that Pearl River County has reached a fork in the road, the county can choose to go down the alcohol fork or the abstinence fork. Galloway said the Bible does not condone drinking.

“There is no place in the Bible that says alcohol is a sin,” Galloway said.

He then read a passage from the Bible that gave warnings of its use and abuse, said Galloway.

Carl Myers passed out flyers to the board, signs for their lawn and asked every member of the board to put the signs out front their homes, and ask their families to vote against the referendum.

No one spoke on behalf of legalizing liquor in the county.

Habitat for Humanity president Bob Niemi addressed the board about waiving permit fees for their building needs. District IV Supervisor Robert Thigpen said that the board already had approved a motion to do so. Thigpen said he would like to see if the organization could rebuild on some blighted property in his district. Niemi said they could but would rather have new property to build on.

The Nicholson Neighborhood Watch approached the board about the increase of drug dealing in that community. Watch member Eugene Craddock said the community’s main issue is the lack of sheriff’s deputies in the area.

Even if the watch members have a meeting Sheriff Joe Stuart would not show up while Picayune Police Chief Jim Luke did show up at their last meeting, Craddock said.

Assistant Chief Deputy Julie Flowers did say that a deputy was present at the meeting but was verbally attacked.

“He felt he was ambushed because he couldn’t answer the questions,” Flowers said.

One member of the watch said she knew who the drug dealers where. Gaynail Stockstill said she has informed the Sheriff’s Department who the suspected drug dealers are, but no arrests have been made. The watch members had a meeting last night to discuss more matters of cleaning the community up of the drug dealings.

The board also went in to executive session on personnel matters with the Planning and Development Department.

In other business the board:

— Approved going out for bids on a dozer and to sell two at auction.

— Authorized acceptance of partial payments of ad valorum taxes for 2006.

— Approved applying for a mosquito control grant to obtain fogging and ditching equipment.

— Accepted a bid on the purchase of two pot hole patchers for the Road Department for $46,000 per patcher.

— Accepted bid on two excavation ditching machines for $41,617 per machine.

The next meeting of the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors will be 9 a.m. Thursday Oct. 12 at the Poplarville courthouse.