Board appoints replacement, sheriff receives raise

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 7, 2014

An appointment has been made to fill the vacant seat of District II Pearl River County Supervisor, the late Joyce Culpepper.

The board also approved a motion to give a $27,600 raise to Sheriff David Allison.

During Monday’s meeting the board discussed appointing Culpepper’s daughter, Michelle Carr, to the vacant seat. The motion passed with a three to one vote, with Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith opposing the appointment.

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“For me to look at the family and vote the way I did was the hardest thing I’ve had to do,” Smith said Tuesday. “(Joyce) was their mother and I thought a lot of her.”

Smith said he voted against the motion because he didn’t believe the appointment was the right thing to do. Smith said he was surprised the appointment and swearing in all occurred on the same day. He felt the matter was taken up too soon.

District I supervisor Anthony Hales and District IV Supervisor J. Patrick Lee said they voted for the motion because they wanted to abide by Culpepper’s wishes. Hales said he feels Carr will share the same values and opinions as her mother, who was elected into office. Hales has heard public opinions that the board should have considered one of the candidates that ran against Culpepper. To appoint a candidate who ran for the office but lost would be going against the public’s wishes, Hales said.

“If they ran a number of times and didn’t win, why put that person in office?” Hales said.

Carr’s appointment is temporary until a special election can be held to officially fill the position. Lumpkin said the special election could be held in November of this year with the general election, but an official date has not been set.

In another matter, the board approved a motion to provide Sheriff David Allison with a total of $27,600 in raises. County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said the raise included two parts. The first part dealt with recent legislation that provides raises to every sheriff in the state, which was for $12,000. The second part was due to the county’s classification as a regional jail because it holds state inmates, which was for $15,600. The raise brings Allison’s pay as sheriff to $115,600 annually.

Hales said he requested an opinion from the Attorney General’s office on the regional aspect of the raise after Allison requested the additional money. Hales said he did not feel Pearl River County’s jail fell in the category of a regional facility. However, the AG’s opinion found that since state inmates are held at the jail, Allison was entitled to the additional $15,600.

That motion passed 4-1, with Smith voting against it, Lumpkin said.

Smith said he voted against the motion because the Sheriff’s Department usually runs over-budget.

“It just didn’t feel like it was something we needed to do right now,” Smith said.

Allison said the $15,600 raise was outlined in the state’s statute concerning jails that manage state inmate work programs, like the one the county uses to pick up litter on the highways, among other services. He said he has not received the funds outlined in the statute since his initial election.

To help inmates become part of society after being released from Mississippi Department of Corrections custody, the board approved reentering into an agreement with PRCC to provide auto mechanic training. Lumpkin said last year the agreement allowed 10 state inmates to attend the course.

The program will take place again this summer.

“It’s so when they get out they have some skills,” Lumpkin said.

In other matters the board;

— Discussed an insurance settlement on the stolen track hoe mentioned at a previous meeting. Lumpkin said the county will receive $56,000 from the insurance company to replace the equipment.

— Discussed resurfacing projects on parts of Sycamore and John Amaker Roads and part of Old Highway 11. No date has been set for the work to take place.

— Entered into a joint funding agreement with the Pearl River Basin Development District to build fencing at the Carriere walking track to make it safer for small children and install new playground equipment.

The next meeting of the board will be at 9 a.m. on May 21.