Board discuss Southside polling location, precinct consolidation

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2017

During Friday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, a lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of consolidating the precincts in the county took place. But before the debate, Board Vice President Hudson Holliday began Friday’s meeting by commending employees of the road department for their efforts across the county.
“Our road crews are currently out there doing a great job and fixing a lot of problems that citizens come to us about. But what some people don’t realize is that these roads need a couple of days to cure. Obviously we can’t shut these roads down, so what we have is people who either don’t understand that or purposely take turns fast and literally digging holes in these roads,” Holliday said.
The issue is a county wide concern and costs the county a lot of money.
“These roads belong to the public and we are working hard and scratching dollars to get these roads to where they need to be. It’s already hard enough and expensive enough to get these roads fixed,” he said.
If anyone sees these acts, Holliday urges witnesses to call the Sheriff’s office and provide names, vehicle descriptions or the location of the incident.
“These people need to be prosecuted. It’s damage to public property,” Holliday said.
During discussion of consolidating the precincts, election commission officials and Circuit Clerk Nancy Stokes voiced their opinions on the proposed change, one pertaining to the Picayune School District election process.
In the past, Stokes said the District conducted its own election for Board members. This year will be the first time that the county will conduct a Picayune School District Board of Trustee election.
Stokes said the election involves 2,700 voters and six precincts and because this is a general election, all of those precincts must be open for voters in the designated areas. However, representatives with Manna Ministries said the site will no longer act as a polling location for the Southside precinct. Stokes said there are 93 voters in the Southside District who could be negatively affected by the change. Although Stokes said she has asked members of the Picayune School District if Southside Elementary could temporarily act as a polling place, she said it would be more cost effective if the county sought out a permanent location prior to the election.
Board President Sandy Kane Smith said he has talked to Manna Ministries representatives and asked if they would consider reopening as a polling location for the Southside District. A decision was not made during Friday’s meeting.
In a similar matter, Stokes shared her opinion of consolidating the precincts. Earlier in September, the idea to reduce the number of precincts from 32 to 12 was proposed to the Board, but no action has yet been made on the matter.
However, Holliday discussed the pros and cons of the possible change.
“I’ve talked to several people and when you fully explain why we are trying to do this, I didn’t have anyone opposed to it; they think it makes all the sense in the world,” Holliday said.
He added that the consolidation of precincts comes with a lot of benefits, the main being the cost savings.
“We could save on ADA costs, which could literally be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Equipment production, another cost; the people’s cost is another cost saving; the cost of running around and setting all of these places up, that goes down from 32 to 12,” he said.
Then he discussed the negatives, beginning with the notion that people don’t like change. Also, inconvenience would play a factor in people’s urgency to go vote.
“If someone says that voting is inconvenient for them because they have to drive an extra three miles, that just doesn’t sit well with me. These precincts were made during the horse and buggy days, when they didn’t have good cars to get around,” Holliday said. “People are willing to drive from Poplarville to Picayune to get a peppermint snowball, if that’s what they want.”
The Board did not take action on the proposal to consolidate the precincts during Friday’s meeting, but County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said the Board will address the matter in the next meeting on Wednesday.

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