New ideas cause problems down the road

Published 8:02 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2006

New issues created within the last year and a half have also created more work for the law making bodies that had varying parts in their creation.

The waste water codes and the new election machines were issues the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors had to tackle during its Monday meeting.

Numerous county residents have expressed concerns about the water and waste water permit process involved with building a new home in the county. Monday county resident Lee Percy said he spent a large amount of money to build a new home in the county when he spent much less years ago, especially on the septic tank. In addition, Percy said it seems the new codes only apply to those new residents coming in to the county while existing residents are left unaffected. This situation leaves only a small percentage of the homes in compliance with the codes, Percy said.

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Board president Danny Wise said that the county had to start somewhere and while it may seem like a small percentage is initially affected, if a home is sold in the county, then those septic tanks will need to be certified as well. The decision to start with new houses in the county was based on the fact that they are responsible for the growth in the county, Wise said.

Percy said that the new codes are not conducive when they only apply to the new people moving in to the county since it leaves all the existing homes with out regulation. Planning and Development Director Harold Holmes said that Percy would benefit from talking to chief building inspector Kirk Pichon about some alternatives on building procedures.

Exactly what the board has responsibility for during elections sparked a debate between the board and the county election commissioners. Election commissioner Bobby Robbins presented a copy of the responsibility codes to the board members and asked for some assistance with certain aspects of the elections. The most notable problem is the lack of an easily accessible, secure and climate controlled storage place for the new voting machines.

Robbins suggested the county protect the $1.5 million collection of machines provided to them with a better place for safe keeping. District IV Supervisor Robert Thigpen said he considered putting the machines and election commissioners in the building across the street from the courthouse but now he is looking at another building that is also air conditioned and heated.

Election commissioner Idora White had a problem with a facility in her precinct. She said it was filthy. In addition, keys to all of the voting precincts seem to be a rare. Some places, such as the Skate Station, are unwilling to provide the county with keys to the building, County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said.

After a debate about who was responsible for cleaning the precincts and ensuring the polls are manned ended, the election commissioners said they were willing to take half of the responsibility.

“It’s not your job, or my job, it’s our job,” said election commissioner Hilda Owen.

Thigpen said the board has had trouble getting keys and he thinks the election commissioners should have keys so they can check out the polling places a week ahead of time. Last election, White said she found conditions no voter would want to endure.

“I’ve never gone to the fair ground and found it dirty before,” White said.

Wise agreed that if they get keys for commissioners problems such as dirty precincts can be addressed before the election.

One solution Robbins posed was using the volunteer fire departments as polling places since they are regularly maintained and have bathrooms. Also, some issues could be addressed by consolidating the polling places to eliminate the small areas and there needs to be more signs to identify polling places, he said. Many precincts fail to meet federal regulations on handicapped accessibility and to cater to their needs, Robbins said.

“These problems were here when ya’ll got elected. Ya’ll didn’t cause these problems,” Robbins said about the last set of issues.

After Wise suggested that a place to store the machines should come first, Lumpkin said they may be able to store them on the second floor of a building next to the courthouse, but it may be too cold. No decision was made.

In other business, the board:

— Adopted the resolution on solid waste and set the public hearing for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 18, at the McNeill auditorium.

— Acknowledged receipt of an updated application form for solid waste amendments.

— Accepted filing a grant with Sample and Associates for a $450,000 2007 Community Development Block grant to build the Department of Human Services office in the new building for Emergency Operations Center and DHS and acknowledged that the DHS part of the building would cost $1.4 million and that county have to match the balance.

— Approved application preparation of contract with Sample and Associates.

— Acknowledged the lowest bid for lighting improvements at the jail.

— Accepted bid for high pressure washer of $3,905.75 from Hillco based on prior service problems with a previous business.

— Approved Holden Road bridge work by Dungan Engineering.

— Accepted lowest and best asphalt bid from Huey Stockstill Inc.

— Approved board president to sign for Emergency Operations Director Bobby Strahan to be administrator for Homeland security grant of $36,000 for a backup communications satellite system.

— Authorized disbursement of a pass-through grant of $2,500 to the Society of the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals for a spay and neuter program.

— Allowed the South Mississippi Planning and Development District to use county offices at administration building at $100 per month with them to pay phone bill.

Adjourned until 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 11.