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Supervisors approve janitorial bid, discuss mental health services

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors will be adding janitorial services to the County Courthouse Annex, but the old Courthouse will still be cleaned by county inmates while it undergoes renovations.

Circuit Clerk Nance Stokes again asked the Board to add additional cleaning services for the Pearl River County Courthouse.

A drug court officer tested positive for COVID-19, highlighting the need to thoroughly and regularly clean the county courthouse. The officer was in the courtroom every day with one of the judges, said Stokes. The courtroom has not been cleaned, she said. While most court business is still handled via teleconference, said Stokes, sometimes members of the public do have to physically enter a courtroom to enter a plea.

The shared spaces in the courthouse, like the restrooms and the hallways, have not been cleaned in several months, said Stokes. County trusties clean the courthouse and were on lockdown for several months to prevent COVID-19 from entering the county jail, according to previous coverage. The county currently uses two trusties to clean the courthouse. Stokes said that the pair are tasked with many responsibilities, including installing a plexi glass barrier to protect judges from COVID-19 in the courtroom, which means they don’t necessarily have time to thoroughly clean shared restrooms or hallways.

Stokes told the Board the courthouse should be cleaned daily to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as its accessibility to the public increases.

The Board did not make plans to add any additional cleaning services to the county courthouse, but did approve the lowest bid for janitorial cleaning three days per week in four county buildings. The county buildings include Chimney Square, DHS/Justice Court Building, the DHS/County Extension and the new Pearl River County Courthouse Annex. The bid was awarded to Empire Janitorial Service and will cost $5,833.15 per month.

County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said he recommended continuing to rely on county inmates to clean the old County Courthouse because it will soon be undergoing renovations.
In a separate matter, tax rolls are available for public inspection at the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors Board room. The public has until August 3 to check their assessments and turn in objections.

In a separate matter, Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources Executive Director Mona Gauthier gave the Board an update on mental health services in Pearl River County. Pine Belt took over providing mental health services in the county in October 2019. Gauthier told the Board that Pine Belt has served 544 citizens in the county and offered 4,030 services.

In 2019, Pine Belt did not train any Crisis Intervention Team officers, but two sheriff’s officers are scheduled for Crisis Intervention Team training later this year. Gauthier also said that Pine Belt has done involuntary commitment assessments and is working on improving how it conducts those.

The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted much of the face-to-face service that Pine Belt was providing, but they equipped staff to offer telehealth services, she said. While behavioral health services were already offered via telehealth, Pine Belt will be able to offer telehealth for outpatient services for as long as COVID-19 is declared an emergency situation. During the pandemic, two of the Picayune office’s 10 employee slots have been vacant, she said.

However, Pine Belt is advertising for additional staff and trying to expand its programs.
Lumpkin said that Pine Belt has stepped up and made sure that the vulnerable parts of the community have had access to mental health services during the pandemic.