Supervisors hear about PRC hospital ER opening, name PRCC board trustee

Published 3:05 pm Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pearl River Co. Supervisor Hudson Holliday told fellow supervisors on Tuesday that the Pearl River County Hospital had opened last week a fully staffed and  around-the-clock emergency room to serve the northern section of Pearl River County.

Holliday called it a milestone in attempts to get the hospital back up to its full potential of serving the residents of North Pearl River County. The hospital, which also has a nursing home facility that is considered one of the best in the South.

The hospital is partially supported by a tax levy that covers mainly the northern section of the county in what are old Beats one, two and three.

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Holliday said officials have been working quietly behind the scenes to get the emergency room up and going, and that those officials involved should be congratulated for the job they have done.

He said the ER is fully staffed by local doctors.

In other matters, supervisors named Melissa Holston to the Pearl River Community College board of trustees to replace Pearl River County school Supt. Dennis E. Penton, who recently resigned. Penton nor the college gave any reason for Penton’s resignation. Thirteen months remain in his term, and Holston’s appointment is to fill his unexpired term.

Before supervisors named Holston, who is the principal of the Upper Elementary School at McNeill in the Pearl River County school system, board attorney Joe Montgomery checked state law to see if Penton was required to serve as a trustee as long as he is county superintendent of education.

Montgomery, after researching the law for about 30 minutes, told supervisors that the superintendent did not “have to be” on the trustees’ board in line with his official duties and could resign if he wanted. Penton’s position as county superintendent is an elective post.

Supervisors then named Holston to the PRCC seat. Others mentioned as possible candidates for the post were Sonny Sones, Burlon Reid, Pam Frierson, Frank McClinton and Rita Diggs Jones.

Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith moved that Holston be named, his motion was seconded by Supervisor Patrick Lee and supervisors voted 5-0 in favor of Holston’s appointment. Several other candidates’ names were put in nomination but failed for lack of a second. Supervisors name six directors to the PRCC board.

In another matter, supervisors discussed Pearl River Valley Opportunity funding for a second time and the possibility of giving the organization space in the new county office complex at Chimney Square in Picayune. The organization already occupies county-furnished office space in other county offices.

However, the matter of space and funding was tabled for a second time. Supervisors in an August meeting discussed the organization and have on the table a proposition for funding the organization again this year for $16,000, but in a long discussion, all five supervisors said they had received complaints about PRVO’s service to constituents.

However, they did not give names nor describe incidents of poor service.

Two representatives from the organization were in the audience, and supervisors asked them for information on what the organization is contributing to the county.

One of the representatives said that PRVO pumps a half-million-dollars annually into the county, helping low-income residents, and Supervisor Anthony Hales said it is probably more than a million dollars.

PRVO is a government-funded nonprofit agency that covers South Mississippi counties and helps low and moderate income residents with utility and housing expenses, and other expenses in emergency situations.

The county has two seats on the PRVO board of directors, but none of the supervisors knew who the appointees to the board were. Holliday told fellow supervisors that he believed the county needed a breakdown of how PRVO was helping Pearl River County low and moderate income citizens.

The organization, headquartered in Columbia, calls itself a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) action agency established in 1965 under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. The organization has a 24-member board of directors named from private and public sectors, and employs approximately 350. It is incorporated under Mississippi state laws.

Supervisors said they were not sure whether the agency was a private entity or government agency. Smith called it private and Hales said it was a public entity.

In another matter, supervisors set Monday, Sept. 13, at 10 a.m. for a public meeting on the 2010-11 county budget. Supervisors plan to convene at 9 a.m. on Monday for a regular meeting prior to the budget hearing. At the hearing residents can give supervisors their ideas on the budget.

Supervisors after the hearing plan to officially adopt the budget. Supervisors have said they will not raise the millage rate for the county’s new budget.

Supervisors trimmed the proposed budget to meet expected revenues, which have been reduced by a slumping economy. Car tag tax collections alone were down between $600,000 and $700,000 as residents put off big purchases because of the slowing economy.

Last year local taxes were $14.1 million. This year, supervisors expect to collect $13.6 million in the local ad valorem tax levy.

Supervisors have to adopt the budget and set overall millage in September prior to Oct. 1 when the budget takes effect for the new fiscal year.