Pearl River County employees in some departments fear for their jobs

Published 1:38 am Sunday, January 6, 2008

As the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors holds its first meeting Monday morning, many Pearl River County employees will be holding their breaths about whether they will continue to be employed by the county.

Employees of the Planning and Development Department and the Building Department feel especially targeted because of promises made during the campaigns about those departments.

Building Department employees are worried because their department works to enforce the building codes and charge fees for building permits, both of which were hot topics during the campaigns.

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Employees from the building department also recall an event that happened in November of 2006 involving Hudson Holliday, who is now supervisor for District III.

Holliday says he went to the building department on behalf of an acquaintance to see if he could obtain a power pole permit.

“The guy, I don’t even remember his name, had moved in a 1976 model trailer and wanted to get power… He was told he could not prove it was a Zone 2 trailer. I went up there and was trying to talk to them at the building department, and I was told to call my supervisor, and they asked me who that was. I told them, ‘Right now, it’s Larry Davis, but come next November, it’s going to be me, and there are going to be some changes in here’,” Holliday said.

Chief Building Inspector Kirk Pichon said he heard Holliday from his office and walked to the front to see what was going on.

“He lost his temper. He was very upset and said he was going to clean house (in the department),” Pichon said.

Holliday admits his temper got the best of him, and said he told Pichon to “remember this day” because when he went into office there would be changes. Holliday says he never threatened to fire anyone and that once he was elected, he went back to Pichon and asked could they start over with a clean slate.

Pichon admits that Holliday asked for a clean slate, but says neither he nor any of his employees ever received an apology from Holliday for his actions that day.

Employees in the Planning and Development Department also are concerned for their jobs because of campaign promises made, mostly by Holliday.

Julia Anderson, a grant administrator for the Planning Department, says she is very nervous about losing her job.

“We have heard a lot of rumors that we will lose our jobs very shortly, but nothing has been said directly. It makes me nervous, but I’ve felt it was likely to happen since the election, because Hudson went around saying he was going to get rid of Harold (Holmes) in the Planning Department,” Anderson said.

Anderson said she as well as other Planning Department employees have made several efforts to get the new supervisors to come sit and talk with them and see the operations of the Planning Department and what they do.

“Harold has asked them several times at the board of supervisors’ meetings to come out and see what we do, and they won’t come… I don’t think they understand what all goes on in this office,” Anderson said.

Holmes, the director of the Planning and Development Department, agreed with Anderson that none of the supervisors have attempted to contact the division.

“None of the new supervisors have been to the Planning and Development office. I’ve never even spoken to them since they announced their candidacy,” Holmes said.

Former District III Supervisor and former Mississippi Association of Supervisors President Larry Davis said the new board does not have to give employees warning before termination.

“At the beginning of the year, all county employees are terminated as of Jan. 1, until they are rehired by the supervisors. They can continue working until a decision is made whether or not to rehire them, but at the first of each year, they are at-will employees,” Davis said.

Anderson is worried about the state of the Planning Department if they are all let go.

“The county has spent several hundreds of thousands of dollars that need to be reimbursed… . I think it would create chaos if they let us all go, but I think anything’s possible,” Anderson said.