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Supervisors Put Restrictions On Hiring New County Agent

By David Howell

COFFEEVILLE – Super-visors set several requirements for applicants who apply for the Mississippi State University Extension Service county director – they must live in Yalobusha County or agree to move to the county within six months after taking the job,  they must have an agricultural-related degree and they must agree to oversee the Multi-purpose Building.

    The requirements came after Mississippi State University Extension Dir-ector – Northeast District Head Dr. Bill Herndon requested input from supervisors as he prepares to fill the position vacated after longtime county agent Steve Cummings retired.

    The move came in a board order after the issue was batted around the board table with one supervisor cautioning about being too restrictive.

    “I am all for (requiring them to live in the county) unless there is someone in an adjoining county that could serve us well. Everybody can’t just pick up and move,” District Three M.H. “Butch” Surrette cautioned, adding he was all for them living in the county if they can.

    “You can get yourself in a bind doing that… we have got ourselves in a bind one time,” Surrette continued.

    “Why could we put in the order six months after hiring or a year after hiring you must be a resident of the county?” District Five Supervisor Frank “Bubba” Tillman countered.

    “I don’t see a reason in the world why we couldn’t. If we are going to subsidize $5,600 in taxpayers money (annually), they need to live in Yalobusha County,” District One Supervisor Tommy Vaughn added. “The job is a good enough job that they can move to take it.”

    “You can’t take a job and jump up and sell tomorrow. You give them six months or a period of a year to move to the county. Is that what y’all want to do?” Tillman asked.

    “Yes, then if they were committed to the job then they would consider moving,” Board President Amos Sims agreed.

    “Let me ask you one question. Had you rather have somebody that is not really qualified for the job just because they live in this county or would you rather have somebody qualified for this job?” Surrette asked.

    “That doesn’t have a thing in the world to do with it,” Vaughn answered.

    “That is going to have all to do with it,” Surrette responded.

    “They can move to this county,” Vaughn stressed.

    “It is going to have all to do with it,” Surrette continued.

    “No, they can move to this county if they want that job,” Vaughn said. “I guarantee Dr. Herndon is not going to pick the first person off the street, they are going to be qualified,” Vaughn said.

    “I realize that. But I am telling you we got ourselves in a bind one other time by doing that. But you can do whatever you want,” Surrette added.

    The other two requirements were not contentious, as supervisors agree to the ag related requirement and overseeing the county-owned Multi-purposed.

    The vote passed 5 – 0 in favor of the restrictions.

    Other business conducted at the meeting:

    • Heard an update from Yalobusha County Economic Development Director Bob Tyler. Tyler first reported John Phillips has purchased 20 acres of land near I-55 at Oakland.

    Tyler said Phillips’ operation will convert wood to produce wood pellets which will be used to generate electricity. Tyler said the operation is expected to start with eight jobs and work up to as many as 20 jobs.

    Tyler also said he met with Representative Tommy Reynolds and other people in Jackson last week to discuss several things including funding for Cossar State Park and funding for infrastructure improvements to the private railroad that runs through Yalobusha County en route from Memphis to Canton

    “I don’t know much about the railroad. It is privately owned. With the shortage of money, I just don’t know if our legislators are going to fund it,” Tyler said about the railroad.

    Shifting to the state parks, Tyler informed supervisors that the House has an appropriations bill to upgrade parks.

    “The Senate hasn’t done anything on any money to upgrade parks, but I am not saying that they will or won’t,” Tyler said.

    Tyler said if the bill is passed like the House has it written, it would provide $15 to $18 million for park upgrades and should include money for improvements to update Cossar State Park.

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