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By ANNETTE HARVISON
The Greene County Board of Supervisors’ regular monthly meeting Monday morning featured a bit of good news for the county and a tough public inquiry.
Circuit Clerk Cecelia Bounds addressed the county leaders concerning a grant made available to the election commission that will allow for the purchase of much-needed equipment as well as improvements to several polling places around the county to meet ADA requirements. After these purchases are made, a balance will remain, Bounds said, and the remaining funds will be used for any additional updates or purchases needed by the election commission.
More good news for the county came with the announcement of lower premiums for property and casualty insurance. The board was presented with two bids for the annual insurance and based on improved claims record, the county expects to see nearly $65,000 in savings through Traveler’s Insurance.
Dist. 2 Supervisor Morris Hill asked Board President Wayne Barrow about funds remaining in an economic development account earmarked for county railway development. Barrow asked to table the discussion until the next meeting. The money in the account could be used for other improvements such as county entry signs on each of the four-lane highways in the county, as suggested by members of the board.
With a different tone to the meeting, Senator Dennis DeBar stood in front of the supervisors to address the tentative county jail being proposed on Industrial Park Road. Supervisors recently asked board attorney and State Representative Roun McNeal to propose legislation in the House of Representative to allow for a jail to be constructed outside the incorporated limits of the county seat.
DeBar told the board members if the ‘local-private’ bill makes its way from the House to the Senate, he would work to make sure it did not move forward without adding language requiring a referendum by county voters in order for supervisors to go forward with plans to construct a new jail on the proposed site. The county leaders requested the local-private bill due to uncertainty with the Town of Leakesville’s plans for annexation, which would include the area on Industrial Park Road. The annexation effort is currently being challenged in court, but if it were to win approval, supervisors could elect to proceed with the proposed jail as they would with any other project.
Town officials have approved a resolution opposing any effort to get a local-private bill through the legislature and voted Tuesday to send Mayor George Perkins to Jackson to advise members of the House and Senate of the town’s objections to the measure.
Adding to the topic of new jail construction, Leakesville resident James Radcliff addressed the board on their plans for the project. Radcliff, who recently announced plans to run for the Dist. 1 seat on the board in this year’s election, asked the board to provide information on their plans for the jail, including the anticipated costs of construction based on the number of beds (either 20, 40 or 60); the projected amount of payroll anticipated once a new facility is completed; the projected operational costs of the jail; any other costs to the county; and the board’s plans for the current jail if a new project is approved.
This marks the second time a public records request concerning jail plans has been filed by Radcliff, who says he wants to know what analysis the officials have done on the proposed project and how the project will affect landowners and citizens of the community.
The board was unable to give Radcliff answers to his inquiry at the meeting. However, they agreed to locate related information and address the concerns about the construction and operation of a new county jail.
Reaching out in a new endeavor, the board will hold a ‘reverse auction’ in an effort to purchase a new dump truck for Dist. Three. The reverse auction is a new requirement for certain county purchasing which was approved by the state legislature. However, the process seems to have created more questions than answers as supervisors say they have yet to gain a clear understanding of how the process is supposed to work. Frustration over the issue was a big topic of the supervisors previous meeting as board members debated their understanding of the new law and were unable to get a clear explanation from McNeal, who despite being a member of the legislature, said he still has many questions himself.
The next Board of Supervisors meeting will be held Tuesday, Mar. 26, at 9 a.m. in the Supervisors Conference Room. The meeting is open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend. Anyone needing to address an issue to the board should contact board clerk Michelle D. Eubanks at the courthouse to be placed on the agenda.