Aldermen ask for airport records

Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 9, 2018

Poplarville’s Board of Aldermen heard from Woodmen of the World and the Poplarville Airport Board gave presentations and the city’s leaders discussed public works issues during Tuesday’s meeting.

Representatives of Woodman of the World, a national nonprofit insurance agency, came before the Board and stated their plans to establish a new chapter in the city. They said they would like to partner with the city to help citizens and city employees with insurance plans.

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The nonprofit also provides American flags of every size to organizations that need them and representative Johnny Hoggatt promised to give flags to the city and local schools regardless of whether they had a partnership. Hoggatt said they offer retirement plans, cancer policies, life insurance and even some college support for children of policyholders. Since they are a nonprofit organization, Hoggatt said they offer competitive policies.

“We want it to be an opportunity. The more people we have, the more we can help the surrounding community,” Hoggatt said.

After some discussion, Police Chief Butch Raby said the Police Department was in need of a new American flag. Hoggatt went out to his car and returned with a flag to present to the Police Department.

Public Works Superintendent Sam Hale gave an update on the new Public Works building. He said the contractors are nearly finished with their portion of construction.

“They’re almost done with the Public Works building. It’s looking really good on the inside of it. It’s getting close,” Hale said.

In reference to a separate matter, Alderwoman Shirley Wiltshire she received complaints that headstones at local cemeteries were being damaged by mowers. She said one headstone has been moved and another has been chipped. A cement park bench was also knocked over and chipped, she said. She provided photos taken over the weekend.

Hale asked Wiltshire to send him the photos and said he would address the matter.

Bennie Sellers and Darrell Fuller with the Poplarville-Pearl River County Airport Board came before the Board of Aldermen to give an update on airport projects and request the Board approve applying for a grant to help fund them.

Fuller said the city and the county would need to pitch in about $5,000 in matching funds and asked that the city approve providing that money. After their project is complete, Fuller said he hopes the airport would be financially independent.

Alderman Tony Smith brought up the fact that in 2017 the Board had questions about the airport’s finances and had requested financial reports. However, they never received any reports or financial statements.

“You’re accepting tax money. I don’t think we should ever give taxpayer money to an organization that does not have accountability. We don’t have a record of how that money is being used,” Smith said.

Fuller said they do not have an accountant, so that is one reason they have not been submitting reports. 

Creel mentioned that in the airport’s original 1968 agreement with the city, financial statements would be provided to the city every year.

After looking over part of the agreement, City Attorney Manya Creel Bryan said the airport Board is supposed to provide a financial statement to the city by Aug. 1 each year.

“The problem is, you’ve not had any accounting for all of these years, and I’m shocked that no one has been audited,” Bryan said.

Fuller mentioned that the Board would need to sign the agreement to apply for the grant money by Aug. 19 if the application could go through.

Because of the grant deadline, a motion was passed to sign the grant documents on the contingency that the Airport Board provides a financial record for the dates between Aug. 2017 and Aug. 2018.

“I understand. You have a responsibility for it. We get so wrapped up in these big projects and we have very little money coming in outside of these projects,” Fuller said.