Supervisors frustrated by FEMA over trailers

Published 4:03 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Board of Supervisors wants the Federal Emergency Management Agency to sell the larger trailers that would comply with the county’s building codes to county residents, not the little travel trailers that don’t.

The board also received a written request at its Monday meeting from the Picayune Municipal Separate School District for help with paying for an officer at Nicholson Elementary, which is outside Picayune city limits. The Picayune Police Department provides security at the other district schools.

Pearl River County Emergency Management Agency Director Bobby Strahan told the board he would contact Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Womack about sending out a letter informing residents that the FEMA travel trailers can be purchased for recreational use only.

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District IV Supervisor Robert Thigpen asked about the FEMA surplus of single-wide mobile homes that would comply with the county’s building codes.

County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said that FEMA is not allowing people to purchase the mobile homes if they are currently living in a FEMA travel-trailer. “They’ll let the county buy them, … but the county can’t turn around and sell it to the public,” said Lumpkin.

“Is there any way we can force the issue and make them go ahead and let people have bigger trailers?” District V Supervisor Bettye Stockstill asked.

Strahan told District II Supervisor Danny Wise that he believed the county would qualify for Katrina cottages, but that he didn’t have a definite answer on whether Pearl River County to that question.

“They won’t commit to that until the three coastal counties are taken care of. These are one, two, and three-bedroom cottages that will be on a slab,” said Strahan.

Strahan told the board he would ask Womack to attend one of the next board meetings to speak with the board about the situation.

Nicholson Elementary School submitted a request that the board pay half of the cost of a school resource officer as a continuation of the COPS and School grant. The grant had been funded for four years and runs out this year. The board had previously received a request from Poplarville Schools for the same funding. Pearl River Central Schools are forming their own police force this year.

Picayune city schools use Picayune Police Department officers, but since Nicholson Elementary is outside the city limits, city police officers do not have jurisdiction there. As a result, Nicholson has been using a sheriff’s deputy.

District I Supervisor Anthony Hales said he believed that the schools do not need the help of the board of supervisors.

“I feel like the schools could afford to do this on their own without help from the board,” Hales said. “The schools get a lot of money, and if they look hard enough, they could find enough money to pay that salary.”

Lumpkin said the cost per officer per year for the county would be between $22,000 and $23,000. “It’s about $45,000 per employee, but that’s for benefits and everything,” he said.

Thigpen recommended the board take the request under advisement and discuss the matter with other budgeting issues.

Republican Executive Chairman Reggie Hanberry, Democratic Executive Chairman Sherry Morris, District I Election Commissioner Idora White and other election worker representatives met with the board to discuss pay for poll workers for the upcoming elections.

Hanberry told the board that the state legislature had recently passed an increase in pay for poll workers, and the group was requesting that the board vote to increase pay as well.

The current base pay is $75, with receiving and returning managers making $10 for receiving and returning, and training sessions were currently being compensated at $20 maximum, Hanberry said. The group was requesting those amounts be increased to $105 base pay, $40 training, and receiving and returning costs staying the same.

Hanberry asked that these amounts be in effect for the upcoming election, and emphasized the importance of training people on the new machines. About half of those signed up to work so far are already trained on the machines, Hanberry said, but a lot of people are fearful of the new machines.

“The polls have changed. You can’t put just anybody there. They’re going to have to be trained,” said Morris. “They go to the polls at 6 a.m. and don’t leave sometimes until 8 p.m. or later. That’s a long day for $95.”

Hales wanted to get an estimated total cost for paying the workers, but the board supported a motion by Wise to go ahead and increase the pay to the state recommended levels, which include $125 base pay.

“I don’t think we have much choice,” Wise said. “You’ve got to have good people handling this in order to have an election where there is no controversy.”

“I ain’t against people getting a raise, but I just wanted a total on the money,” Hales said.

The board also took under advisement bids for repairs on the Henleyfield Ball field and walking park, the mapping office, and the Old Holding office. The only bids received on the buildings were from Hensley R. Lee and Industrial Environmental Management.

The bids from HRL were $24,536 for the ball field, $3,152.12 for the mapping office, and $5,400 for the holding office.

The bids from IEM were $24,310 for the ball field, $8,255 for the mapping office, and $8,887.84 for the holding office.

In other business, the board:

— Authorized president to sign Camp Dresser and McKee Contract for planning service for grant application for Katrina Supplemental CDBG funds for Smart Growth Plan.

— Approved a subgrant of $74,956 for sheriff’s department for DUI Officer – “Alcoholics Countermeasures – Safe Communities” to pay for a DUI officer, a camera for the vehicle, and other equipment.