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Board donates to Red Cross, rescinds order from last week

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors met voted Monday to rescind an order that was issued at last week’s meeting denying a variance on a road right-of-way.

County Planning and Development Director Ed Pinero said the request had come before the board last week on a parcel of two acres that was being divided out of a 4.45 acre parcel. The owners of the property had asked for a variance for a 40-foot easement of access, rather than the standard 60 foot easement.

At last week’s meeting, Pinero said the request could be the first of many, and the supervisors voted to deny the request.

At this week’s meeting, Pinero said it had been brought to his attention that Jake Smith Road, which leads to the property in question, is only 20 feet wide.

“These individuals can make their road every bit as wide as Jake Smith Road. I see no reason this would be precedent setting. I ask the board to consider rescinding the motion and voting on accepting the 40-foot variance,” Pinero said.

District IV Supervisor Patrick Lee made the motion to rescind last week’s motion and allow the variance, and was seconded by District III Supervisor Hudson Holliday.

District I Anthony Hales expressed concern that the situation would set a precedent for other roads to follow.

“What happens, are you going to do this in every situation in which the road is not wide enough? We’ve had people come in who have existing 10- and 12-foot wide roads wanting to put in subdivisions. Do you apply this philosophy to all roads that are preexisting?” Hales asked.

Pinero said that roads should be considered on an individual basis, and that the board would not be setting a precedent for anything.

The board voted to allow the variance, with Hales voting no.

The board also made a $10,000 donation to the American Red Cross in support of the ongoing Heroes campaign, and passed a resolution declaring Friday, April 18, as American Red Cross Day in Pearl River County.

Red Cross Representatives Raemona Welder and Ernie Rampola were present at the meeting to receive the check issued by the board.

“There have been several disasters in the county since I have been supervisor. Nearly every family in the county was affected by Hurricane Katrina, and has benefitted from what the Red Cross has done. I also want to challenge every elected official in Pearl River County to match my personal donation of $100 to the American Red Cross,” Hales said.

Pearl River County Sheriff David Allison said he has been given a deadline of Aug. 1, for the state inmate dormitory to be completed at the jail.

“I spoke with Ron Welch last week, and he said if the building is not complete by Aug. 1, with the inmates ready to move in, they will pick up the state inmates,” Allison said.

Holliday asked if the contractor can have the building complete by the deadline.

County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said he believed the building could be ready in the time allowed.

Lee said he believes that if the state sees that the county is making progress on a building, they may be inclined to work with the county on extending the deadline.

Holliday said the board may want to consider letting the contractor know about the deadline, but no official action was taken on the matter.

Chancery Clerk David Earl Johnson presented the board with the Picayune School District Year End 2006 Audit.

Holliday noted that the audit said the school district is having problems, but that no solutions were offered to fix the problems, and the problems were not specified.

“I keep harping on it, but we’ve got to get involved in these schools. I don’t know what their weaknesses are, and I don’t know how to fix them… Obviously we have something to do with the report, since we have to accept them filing it. This report says there are material weaknesses within the school… I’m suggesting this is another reason to have a workshop and get the board involved with these schools,” Holliday said.

Johnson said he agreed with Holliday, but was unsure of how much control the board would have, other than providing good communication with the school boards.

“It’s a separate government entity, and I don’t think we will have much control,” Johnson said.

Holliday made a motion to set up a meeting with administrators for the three school districts within the next couple of months to see what the board of supervisors can do to help the schools. All supervisors voted in favor of the motion.

Lumpkin mentioned that the county’s landfill, Central Landfill, has increased the cost charged by the ton for large amounts of trash, such as construction debris. The landfill calls the extra charge a “fuel surcharge,” Lumpkin said. No official action was taken on the matter.

Lee said in a phone interview Tuesday morning that the board cannot take official action because the county does not run the landfill, but rather the landfill is a privately owned operation.

“The only thing the county can regulate is who can run the landfill. The price they charge per ton cannot be regulated by the county,” Lee said.

Lee did say he would follow up with the county’s solid waste committee and see if the county has any recourse, but recognized that with the rising costs of fuel, the landfill was within its rights to raise fees.

“If they haven’t gone up on their rates in a while, with fuel prices jumping up the way they are, they have to do something,” Lee said.

In other business, the board:

— Awarded the contract for repairs to a bridge on Asa McQueen Road to Buford Construction of Vicksburg, for $126,867.

— Accepted proof of publication of public notice for the amendment to the county flood maps.

— Accepted executed AAA Ambulance Service Contract in the minutes.

The board recessed until 9 a.m. Monday, April 28.