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Hiring Decision For Civil Defense Slot Postponed Until After July Holiday

By David Howell

WATER VALLEY – Supervisors have adopted a job description defining the duties of the now vacant civil defense director post but postponed a decision on how to proceed with the hiring process. The discussion came during a recessed meeting held Monday in Water Valley.

    The position was vacated June 12 after longtime director Cecil Harrison was terminated following a unanimous vote by supervisors after a lengthy executive session. Frank Hyde, the county’s fire coordinator and 911 director, was appointed interim director at that same meeting.

    Supervisors returned to executive session to discuss the matter in Monday’s meeting, spending more than an hour behind closed doors before returning to open session to outline their next move.

    “The applicants need to know what they are getting into before they are hired,” Board Attorney John Crow said, after supervisors opened the meeting back to the public.

    “I don’t have any problem with the job description, I am surprised we didn’t already have one,” Surrette said, as the board voted 5 – 0 to adopt the job regulations.

    The next step in hiring a civil defense director hit a snag, as supervisors disagreed on whether they needed to advertise the position.

    “One deal is going to cost the county about $20,000 more than the other deal,” Surrette said, as another option was unveiled – adding civil defense director to Hyde’s list of duties.

    “We are going to advertise for resumes and see if somebody else is going to be qualified,” District Five Supervisor Frank “Bubba” Tillman said, as county officials weighed options on whether to advertise the position and get a field of candidates interested, or to offer Hyde the position. Hyde had told supervisors earlier in the meeting that he would like to put his name in the hat for the job.

    “My mind is made up, I am going to be honest with you,” Vaughn said, referring to offering Hyde the job.

    “Mine is too,” Surrette said.

    “$35,000 savings to the county, I can’t pass that up,” Vaughn continued, referring to making several changes in the civil defense office, including paying Hyde for the extra job an amount less than what Harrison had been paid.

    The discussion continued back and forth for several more minutes, as supervisors weighed the potential interest from job candidates who may apply if a decision is made to publicize the opening, either by posting the opening at both courthouses, or advertising the vacancy in the North Mississippi Herald and Coffeeville Courier.    

    “With the economy the way it is, there is going to be 30 or 40 people put in for the job and that 30 or 40 are not going to forget they didn’t get the job,” Vaughn said.

    “If there are 40, 39 of them are going to be mad,” Surrette said.

    After supervisors made an attempt to contact Hyde, who had been at the meeting earlier, a decision on how to proceed was delayed until the July 6 meeting.

    “If we get in too big a hurry, we might do the wrong thing,” Vaughn said.

    “We will come back after the Fourth of July and decide whether we will take resumes,” Tillman agreed.

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