Board asks FEMA to look at damaged PRC school district building

Published 7:59 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Nearly two years since Hurricane Katrina damaged the Pearl River County School District’s office building nothing has been done to repair it even though bids have been awarded .

The district’s office has been housed in double wide trailers parked next to each other near the high school and middle school campuses since shortly after the storm, said district superintendent Dennis Penton.

Bids were awarded recently but the scope of work was more than the contractor Benchmark Construction Corp. had bargained for. Project manager Gary Chamblee said there was more mold in the building than the company had expected.

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The cost to repair the damaged building is greater than the monetary aid the school system has received thus far.

“Our insurance we got was just a drop in the bucket,” Penton said.

Penton estimated the cost to remove the wet material from the building would eat up money the district received from insurance and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“I think we are well beyond the FEMA threshold of 50 percent replacement,” Penton said.

District IV Supervisor Robert Thigpen said he would like to get the building re-inspected by FEMA. County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said he would contact the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to get a re-inspection conducted.

The cramped and inconvenient office space the superintendent’s office currently occupies is causing Penton to press the board for some fast action on the matter.

“This is not getting anywhere. We’re no further along now than we were after the storm,” Penton told the board of supervisors at its meeting on Monday.

Thigpen made a motion to get FEMA to re-inspect the building to see if they will declare it unsalvageable so the county can make proposals for a replacement. The motion was approved.

Annette Spiers, with the Derby Volunteer Fire Department, addressed the board about a problem she was having collecting money from an individual who was supposed to do some work to the department. Her problem was that one project was never started while another project was never finished, even though he was paid for both in advance.

She said the department hired Calvin Wheat to install new roll up doors on the department and do some other repair work. Spiers said Wheat admitted he owed the department money and he intends to pay it, but could not do so all at one time.

“He got it all at one time, he should give it back at one time,” Spiers said.

Spiers said Wheat sent a check to the department for $500 but he owes $3,300.

“We’ve been dealing with him for over two years now,” Spiers said.

Wheat was paid to install the doors, but never showed to do the work. The department had to hire someone else to do it, Spiers said. There was also other repair work Wheat was paid for but never completed.

Lumpkin asked Spiers to make a copy of the money order sent by Wheat and deposit it into the department’s account, then bill Wheat for the difference.

The Mississippi Health Department conducted a sanitation inspection of the county jail. There were mostly minor issues listed in the report such as low water pressure, no shower heads on some showers and only cold water available from some faucets.

Chief Deputy Julie Flowers said the shower heads have been removed by unruly inmates and the hot water was kept out of those areas to avoid future issues with inmates. The inmates responsible for removing or damaging the shower heads will have charges pressed against them, she said. The board accepted the report from MDH.

Recently an animal control officer had to deal with a long recurring problem, escaping horses near Grover Barrett Road. Thigpen and Nicholson Volunteer Fire Chief Bobby Robbins said this is a problem that has been happening for many years in the same area. The owner of the horses will have to pay the bill incurred for the recovery and care of the animals. The board approved issuing a check to the animal control officer for the care of the animals, which the owner will reimburse.

Brooks Wallace with Dungan Engineering said his firm has received 1,550 Right of Entry forms totaling to about 5,400 dead, standing trees on FEMA approved roads. Of that total number, 2,900 have already been removed, Wallace said.

Since Dungan Engineering believes there has been sufficient time to alert all residents about the program, residents will have until Friday to sign up. Trees on federal aid routes are not eligible for this program, Wallace said.

The board authorized Lumpkin to sign the ROE for dead tree removal on county property.

Following an executive session Monday, the board replaced former Utility Authority member Don Durham with Joel Pigott and approved moving a polling place from the Pearl River Central ball field to the Hill Crest Baptist Church on Anchor Lake Road.

In other business the board;

— Authorized board president to sign disaster recovery assistance grant contract for $60,284.96 for reimbursement to the county for the salaries and fringe benefits, travel and training of building division staff.

— Approved paying a $5,300 electricity bill for the months of February, March and April as part of the county’s share of Church of the Way utility bills, where offices formerly in Chimney Square are located.

— Acknowledged receipt of state grant funds to be paid through the county to the Mississippi Spay and Neuter program.

The board meets again Monday, May 14, at the Pearl River County Courthouse in Poplarville.