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Supervisors Give Nod To Sheriff To Purchase Three New Cruisers

By David Howell

    Yalobusha Sheriff Lance Humphreys received approval to purchase three new patrol cars after meeting with county supervisors during the “first Monday” board meeting in Coffeeville.
    The money for the cruisers, which will total around $20,000 each,  will come from $69,000 the sheriff’s department receives annually from the U.S. Corps of Engineers for patrolling portions of Grenada and Enid lakes that are located in Yalobusha.
    “We have a $31,000 surplus built up,” Humphreys told supervisors about his lake patrol budget. Using that money, he proposed to purchase one car outright and lease two more.
    “We will have one vehicle paid off this year,” the sheriff explained referring to one of the two Chevrolet pickups purchased two years earlier.
    The two vehicles will be financed for four years at an estimated five percent interest. The cars will also be purchased at state contract price.
    The lake patrol budget has been traditionally utilized to pay one deputy and update the department’s fleet.
    “You going to get pickups or cars?” Supervisor Frank “Bubba” Tillman.
    “I am going to get cars,” Humphreys responded.
    “That’s fine,” Tillman said.
    Humphreys added that several neighboring departments were using trucks for patrol.
    “They are getting better maintenance out of trucks,” Humphreys said. “But we are going to go ahead and get three cars for now,” he said.
    After breezing through the vehicle request, the sheriff shifted to department firearms, explaining that he would like to apply for a $2,500 Justice Department Grant to purchase Glock 40 caliber semi-automatic pistols for all of the deputies.
    “We currently have four revolvers,” Humphreys said. A gun dealer in Grenada, who serves as a Glock dealer, had offered $1,000 trade-in on the four revolvers.
    The county’s portion of the grant will be $277, Humphreys said, if the grant is awarded.
    This request was also approved.

Last But Not Least
    Humphreys then pitched his last request, assistance to increase his deputies’ pay scale in order to be competitve with neighboring departments.
    “I have lost three people since August because of pay,” Humphreys said. One of his previous deputies left to work at Senatobia Police Department and a second left to pursue a career in truckdriving.
    “I have contacted Water Valley Police Department and Coffeeville Police Department,” Humphreys said, explaining that deputies made less than officers in either of those departments.
    “Our certified officers that have two years experience are still $1,500 less than a new hire officer with no years experience at Water Valley Police Department,” Humphreys said. Coffeeville officers also earn more than Yalobusha deputies, a figure that Humphreys said made it tough to be competitive when hiring.
    “How many officers do you have now?” Supervisor Tommy Vaughn asked.
    “Six full-time deputies,” Humphreys answered. He added that he had two new deputies hired, one certified and one non-certified.
    “If our situation was different, we would already be giving you the money to pay these folks with,” M.H. “Butch” Surrette answered, adding that he did not believe you can pay for dedication or loyalty.
    Surrette was referring to the tight budget the county stretched for the 2007-2008 fiscal year which started last month.
    “I realize what you are saying, this is not a new situation, this is a situation that has been there all of the time,” Surrette continued. “As time goes on, we probably can do some things. Everybody knows this is going to be a difficult year for us.”
    “I am all for you, I am all for helping the employees,” he added.
    “It is so hard to find a qualified person,” Humphreys said, adding that it was not uncommon for applicants to pass a background check.
    “If you could, work us up some type of dollar figure to make us competitve with the City of Water Valley and the City of Coffeeville,” Vaughn said.
    Humphreys said he would present these figures at the next meeting.


Other business
    • Yalobusha landowner Fletcher Fly’s attorney, Stewart Guernsey presented a request for abandonment of County Road 161. His request was part of an ongoing dispute between Fly and neighboring land owners.
    The board took no action on the request.
    • Clarified a resolution published last month asking for Congress to appropriate the full amount of Payment In Lieu of Taxes (P.I.L.T) for the approximate one-fourth of the federally owned land in Yalobusha. The county should receive $127,000 PILT payment annually, but instead only received $82,202 in 2006 and in lesser years.
    Also in the resolution, supervisors asked their congressional delegation to allow portions of the land to be available for private ownership or development in an attempt to create economic development or strengthen the tax base.
    Vaughn said this request was only for a small amount of land for some type of development. He referenced the marina and golf course located on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land at Sardis Lake and the newly constructed golf course on Grenada Lake as possible examples of utilizing the federal land.
    “We are talking about 100 acres of land somewhere,” Vaughn said concerning potential development in the future. Vaughn noted there was more than 70,000 public acres in the county.
    Following the publication of the resolution and editorial in the Herald, several supervisors faced criticism from Yalobushian who use and enjoy the public land resource in the county.
   “I have enjoyed that lake for 60 years, and I want my kids and grandkids to enjoy it,” Vaughn said.
    “By the same token, we are trying to get what the government owes us,” Vaughn said.
    • Set Thursday, January 3, as the date to swear in the county officials for the new term.

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