WATER VALLEY – Bob Tyler, director of the Yalobusha Economic Development Authority, appeared before the Board of Supervisors at their meeting Wednesday, April 16. Tyler told the board that he had become concerned after hearing that there were some 6,000 applications for jobs at the primary Toyota plant.
“I got worried about Windsor foods,” he said, referring to the manufacturing operation that will be opening in the former beef plant facility in Oakland.
Tyler explained that he had received assurances from the Department of Employment Security that they were not concerned and had set aside $100,000 for training Windsor employees when the time comes.
In the company’s most recent statement to the press, released in mid-January, Windsor stated the plant would start-up in the second half of 2008. Renovations at the Oakland facility have delayed the start-up of the facility from an earlier projected date, which was the first quarter of 2008.
Tyler also told the board that Paul Johnson, who is involved in Toyota projects for the Mississippi Development Authority, is in the area on a regular basis working with the University of Mississippi engineering department. The school is revamping some of their programs toward automotive.
Tyler said that he would be meeting with Johnson in the near future and asked the board to take part in the meeting. He added that Johnson believes there are still Toyota suppliers who are looking for places to set up their facilities.
A website for county economic development is being put together, Tyler added, and will be presented to the board. He also said that the Northeast Mississippi Industrial Development Association is going to help the county produce a CD which will be used to recruit business and industry.
Tyler finished his presentation by commenting on the detention center bill that won’t come up in the legislature until the next session, next year. He said that there was a push underway to get the bill on the special session agenda.
Supervisor Bubba Tillman asked if Irb Benjamin was still working on the prison project. Benjamin, of Mississippi Correctional Management Inc., is still under contract and is working for the county, he was told.
• Coroner Ronnie Stark received approval from the board for travel and other expenses associated with attending the annual summer conference of the Mississippi Coroner-Medical Examiner Association to be held in June at the Imperial Palace in Biloxi.
• Supervisors agreed to use $2250 from the buildings and grounds fund for the Multipurpose Building sign. The total cost of the sign is about $7000. The county is to receive a grant of approximately $3000 and Farm Bureau is giving $1000, according to Supervisor Tommy Vaughn. “People don’t realize what an impact that building has on the county,” Vaughn said.
Supervisor Tillman added, “After eight years we need that sign.”
“Before we move on,” Supervisor George Suggs said, “I checked the Oakland Library and it is going to need a roof on it.”
The supervisors agreed that there was money available in the buildings fund that would cover the estimated $2,200 needed for the roof. Suggs would be required to get two estimates for the work.
• Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn received approval for reimbursement of expenses for herself, Janet Calder and Donna Massey to attend required purchasing, receiving, and inventory control clerk training in Oxford.
• The board voted to instruct the purchasing clerk to accept the first alternate bid for limestone hauling after Hellums Trucking withdrew their bid.
• Sheriff Lance Humphreys told the board that there were maintenance problems in and around the jail that needed attention. He explained that some could be handled with trustee labor and others would require hiring outside help.
Humphreys said that he had been holding off on spending money on the current jail facility hoping that the regional jail would become a reality.
“Even in the best case scenario, we are looking at three years right now,” Supervisor Vaughn said of the project.
“I knew I was going to have to do some things, but I was going to try to keep it to a minimum,” Humphreys said and added that his biggest concern was the old plumbing in the jail.
In an unrelated subject, the sheriff asked the board if funds were available to pay a part-time person who oversees trustees cutting grass on county property.
• The supervisors agreed to downsize their ad in the Mississippi Association of Supervisors magazine convention issue from a full page in color to a half-page black and white that costs $200.
• Chancery Clerk McMinn was instructed to submit a letter stating that Yalobusha County would participate in the Mississippi Beaver Control Assistance Program (BCAP.)The county had been dropped from the program and landowners had contacted supervisors with concerns about the amount of damage caused by beavers.
The program will cost between $6,000 and $12,000 depending on the number of counties that commit to participate, according to information read by McMinn. Supervisors can decide at a later date if they actually will participate in the program.
• McMinn brought up an item that wasn’t on the original agenda involving a Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) grant. The money pays the salary for local solid waste assistance officer Bill McMinn and some clean-up expenses.
The state is asking for a commitment from the county board to continue to fund McMinn’s salary before they will approve the next grant.
“That puts you over the barrel,” commented Supervisor Vaughn. “If you say you’re going to fund it, they are going to drop you.”
Supervisors agreed that McMinn’s position was important to the county and they would continue to fund his position. However, at the recommendation of the attorney Crow, nothing was placed on the minutes.
• A brief discussion was held involving a letter from state officials which stated that Yalobusha County is no longer eligible for tax incentives as a growth and prosperity county because of a drop in the unemployment rate. Supervisors agreed that drop in unemployment was good news. However, there were questions about the loss of tax incentives would mean to the county.
• Supervisors voted to go into executive session to discuss matters involving litigation.
• Upon returning to regular session, the board members spoke by phone with fellow supervisor Butch Surrette who is currently undergoing cancer treatment.
Surrette said that he was feeling better and had been told that he was going to be an “over achiever” in the treatment program.
“We appreciate hearing from everybody at home and we miss everybody. It’s good hearing from all of you,” he said.
“We won’t let anyone sit in your chair,” commented board president Amos Sims.