Supervisors hear complaints about broken voting machines, wandering eyes

Published 5:16 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2006

While last weeks election went well, there were a few hitches.

These and other issues were discussed at the Pearl River County Board of Supervisor’s meeting Tuesday. Long lines and wandering eyes were complaints reported during last week’s election.

District V Supervisor Bettye Stockstill said she heard complaints about the positioning of the machines. Apparently the machines were positioned at some precincts to where passersby could see how voters were voting. Stockstill suggested positioning the machines during future elections so that voter’s backs are to a wall.

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District IV Supervisor Robert Thigpen said he heard about some poll workers looking over voters shoulders as they voted. Apparently in Pine Grove district a poll worker would walk to the voting machine to help a voter, then watch as they voted, Thigpen said a voter told him.

“People should have the right to vote the way they want to vote,” he said.

Election commissioner Hilda Owen said all the poll workers were told not to approach the machines unless they were called on to do so, and if so, then two poll workers should approach at the same time. Owen, who also had some complaints, said there are problems with the voting precincts, such as sub par conditions and a lack of keys to get into them.

“We need to start working on next year’s election right now and getting it straight,” Thigpen said.

The board decided to have a meeting with the election commissioners to discuss all the problems during the first week of December, but with a word of warning.

“Be sure to tell them if they come down to here biting, they’ll probably get bit back,” said District I Supervisor Anthony Hales.

The public hearing for the block grant to get funds to help build the new multi-purpose building in Millard was held during the meeting. Jason Hicks with Sample and Associates said since the Department of Human Services would have an office in the building, the block grant can provide some funds to help build the building. While there will not be 100 percent funding of the building, Hicks said the county could apply for up to $450,000 through the block grant. The hearing was opened and closed with no public comment.

Delivery of the supplies to build the new bleachers at the Fair Grounds in Poplarville should occur soon. Les Dungan with Dungan Engineering said the bleachers could be built in a matter of weeks after the supplies arrive.

Hensly Lee, a local contractor, addressed the board about starting his own business to help dispose of debris that does not need to go to Central Landfill. Lee said if the board did not mind, he would begin researching how to start his business. Lee said he has land in the Carriere area that he could use to dispose of class 2 debris, such as green waste and concrete, instead of filling the county land fill with it. In addition, it will save him and other contractors money in disposal fees.

“We got a lot of this work coming up, a whole lot,” Lee said.

Lee said he would have the site properly monitored by the Department of Environmental Quality and it would be run as a legitimate business. The board thought it would be a good idea, so Lee set out to do his research.

The board went into executive session on personnel matters in the Sheriff’s Department and the Road Department. When they came out they approved personnel changes in both departments.

In other business the board:

— Approved the purchase of a tractor with a front end loader to be purchased with funds raised at the Fair Grounds.

— Renewed the lease with Church of the Way for another six months to house the county offices.

— Authorized board president to sign repetitive flood claim grant that FEMA and MEMA will pay 100 percent to buy out property located at 117 Westchester Rd.

— Authorized amendment #1 for National Resource Conservation Services bank stabilization using grouted rock riprap on Arthur Odom, Dupont Harts Chapel, Glover, Juniper Grove and Roy Burge roads.

— Approved bid for $110,000 for computer system upgrade in Chancery Clerk’s Office.

— Approved a bid by Richard Price of $49,242 for work on McNeill Steephollow and Gogo Roads.

— Approved adding a three way stop to the intersection of Henleyfield McNeill Road and Rock Ranch Road with supplies to cost about $3,000 with signs, rumble strips and stripping.

The next meeting of the board will be 9 a.m. Nov. 20 at the county courthouse in Poplarville.