By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – Yalobusha supervisors voted unanimously to terminate the county’s Civil Defense Director, Cecil Harrison, during a recessed meeting held last Friday in Water Valley.
The vote came after an hour-long executive session, which was held after supervisors cruised through a number of other items on their meeting agenda. Harrison was not at the meeting.
District One Tommy Vaughn told the Herald after the meeting that he felt the decision had been made in the best interest of the county.
“We felt like it was time for a change. It was the consensus of the board,” Vaughn said.
The county’s fire coordinator, Frank Hyde, was appointed as Interim Civil Defense Director. Vaughn said the hiring process to replace Harrison will likely begin at the next supervisor meeting.
Other business conducted at the meeting prior included:
• Approved an application for Lovorn Logging, Inc. to exceed the posted weight limit on County Road 119 while logging in District Two. A second application from Crimm Brothers Logging was also approved on County Road 214 and 106.
• Approved a tax exemption request from Valley Tool. The exemption will allow business owner Cayce Washington to maintain the 38 employees he currently has working, according to Tax Assessor/Collector Linda Shuffield, who also recommended to supervisors to approve the exemption. Shuffield also told supervisors that Washington had moved to a larger building.
• Denied a tax exemption request from Metro Cast.
“As far as I am concerned, I am not in favor of exempting them,” District Three Supervisor Butch Surrette said. “They don’t have anybody working here, anyway, maybe two or three people.”
The company provides cable service to residents of Water Valley and some out lying areas. Supervisors voted 5 – 0 to deny the request.
• Discussed a recent Homeland Security audit for funds expended by the sheriff’s department and civil defense department. The audit occurred in mid-May, and Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn shared an exit report with supervisors.
“I did not find any major items that caused concern,” the auditor spelled out in the letter. The letter identified one minor problem, the lack of a mileage log for a pickup truck purchased with Homeland Security funds and used by the sheriff’s department. A mileage log is now being kept for the vehicle, according to Sheriff Lance Humphreys, who added that departments across the state had been cited on this matter.
“What about the pontoon boat?” Vaughn asked.
“Cecil was informed, just a few weeks ago, that the pontoon boat we purchased was not a grant-worthy purchase,” McMinn said. This means the county will not be reimbursed for the expense from Homeland Security.
McMinn explained that Cecil had reported that he was told by the previous Homeland Security administration that the boat was eligible to be purchased with grant funds, but the new administration was now denying it. “How much did that cost the county?” Vaughn asked.
“I want to say, $11,000 or $12,000,” McMinn said. Both McMinn and Humphreys noted that other counties were having problems with Homeland Security grant purchases.
• Approved the advertisement for bids for striping 11.902 miles of roads. The work will be performed on County Road 147, 148, 226 and 53.
• Approved a request from Circuit Clerk Daryl Burney to bond his deputy clerks in the amount of $50,000. The clerks had not been bonded previously, but will be required on July 1 after a law change.
Surrette noted that the new law does not address bonding requirements deputy clerks working in tax assessor and chancery clerk offices across the state.
“They handle more money,” Surrette explained.