Board hears requests from Court Programs, Picayune Chamber of Commerce

Published 8:02 pm Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors heard requests from Court Programs, Inc., about its GPS bracelets and the Picayune Chamber of Commerce about continuing its funding at its meeting on Monday.

David Rothbart, president of Court Programs, said the prior board of supervisors had passed a resolution to use the company’s GPS bracelets as an alternative form of sentencing for some offenders and within the youth courts. Rothbart said the county had agreed to pay the $12 per day fee for any indigent offenders.

“We have supervised approximately 50 people since that time, and have only billed the county for one indigent person,” Rothbart said.

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Rothbart said the bracelet could be utilized to help with the overcrowding problem at the Pearl River County Jail, and said he has been working with Sheriff David Allison towards that end. Rothbart said the bracelet is usually used in lieu of or in addition to bond, but can be adapted to fit specific needs of the program.

County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said he remembered the previous board passing the resolution to use the program, but that it was never agreed that the county would pay fees for indigent persons.

District I Supervisor Anthony Hales said he also did not recall agreeing to pay for indigent individuals.

“I remember signing the resolution, but I don’t remember saying we would pay for indigents. I think the big thing was, people didn’t want their children (in youth court) locked up, and this was an alternative. It saves the county money. I think the people using the service, they should be the ones paying for it,” Hales said.

Allison told the board he would like to continue using the program, with the understanding that the offenders pay for it themselves.

“This would help us out. People can’t pay (their fines) if they’re incarcerated, but if they can get out and be able to go to work with these bracelets, it helps them pay their fines,” Allison said.

Rothbart admitted the system isn’t perfect, but that it is a big asset for a county to have.

“I’m not saying it’s going to solve all your crime problems, but it will help. If there are burglaries in a lot of areas, and we have lots of people wearing this device, we can pinpoint the locations of those wearing the devices,” Rothbart said.

District III Supervisor Hudson Holliday made the motion to continue using the program, with the understanding that the county will not pay for indigents. District V Supervisor Sandy Smith seconded the motion.

Hales asked about juvenile offenders, and said it costs the county $85 per day to house juvenile offenders, as opposed to $12 for the bracelet program. Holliday amended his motion to include an exception for the county to pay for indigent juvenile offenders, and the motion carried unanimously.

Picayune Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Gina Burgess asked the board to continue their funding of the Chamber. Burgess said last year, the Chamber received just under $25,000 from the county, and utilized all funds that they received.

“We are the point of information for a lot of Pearl River County. We’re the lifeblood for keeping small businesses healthy. We provide access to opportunities to help businesses expand and profit more,” Burgess said.

Holliday asked if the Chamber works with Partners for Pearl River County and the Poplarville Chamber of Commerce to boost economic development in the County.

“We don’t work hand-in-hand and side-by-side with them. Partners is more for industrial development, while we’re more with small businesses. We work with the Poplarville Chamber indirectly through the tourism council. We have offered to work together more, but they seem to want to do it themselves,” Burgess said.

Smith said he believed the county needed to provide funds to the Chamber as long as the funds are available, but didn’t want to commit to a certain amount.

“I want to help them. We want to help them, but we don’t want them to depend on this whole amount because there are things we have to go through… The county is fixing to go through a transition. What’s good now might not be so good later on down the road… The funds will be there as long as we have them. We have them now. Two months down the road, that might change,” Smith said.

District IV Supervisor Patrick Lee said that since the board is in the second quarter of its fiscal year, he would make the motion to make the equivalent of two quarterly payments to both of the Chambers and to Partners. The Picayune Chamber will receive $12,500, the Poplarville Chamber will receive $6,500, and Partners will receive $20,000 on the April docket.

Yomia Thompson, who lives in District III, told the board she has been trying to get some blighted property at 106 Zion Church Road, cleaned up, but has yet to have any success.

“There is loose metal all around the place. Children play in the area. It’s very unsafe. Dogs have taken up in the trailer… It’s horrible,” Thompson said.

Holliday said it is places like the one Thompson is concerned about that are the reason the county is starting a clean-up campaign.

“This is going to be a comprehensive clean-up campaign like you’ve never seen. I’ll see if we can go ahead with this project and get something done,” Holliday said.

Lee asked the board for any available funds to assist the City of Picayune with remodeling Friendship Park.

“Opening day is April 11, and they are short on money. They’ve been doing a lot of work down there with FEMA money, but they’re about $12,000 short. There are 900 kids playing baseball down there. Adrain (Lumpkin) tells me we have money coming up for each district for parks and recreation. Some has been spent, but we need some money for Friendship Park,” Lee said.

Lumpkin said the supervisors are each allotted $10,000 per year for parks and recreation, and that the prior board was allowed to spend up to 25 percent of that, so the supervisors currently have approximately $7,500 remaining to spend for the year.

The other supervisors said they would look at their projects and the funds they have available and let Lee know what they can afford to donate.

County Engineer Les Dungan asked the board about putting stop signs at two intersections along West Union Road. Dungan said stop signs are needed at the intersection of F.Z. Goss and West Union Road and at the intersection of West Union Road and Caesar Road.

Lee made a motion to follow engineer recommendations to put four-way stops at both intersections. The motion carried.

In other business the board:

— Authorized president to sign grant application to Miss. Department of Public Safety for $156,925.

— Approved Poplarville bus turnaround for 220 Smith-Peters Road. Holliday voted against the motion.

— Authorized application for grant money from Pearl River Basin for $4,000.

The board adjourned until 9 a.m., Monday, April 7.