By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – For the first time in more than a decade the sheriff’s department will have an up-to-date fleet after the county was awarded a Rural Development Grant that will fund 55 percent of the cost for two new cruisers.
Supervisors approved spending just over $22,000 from the county’s general fund to match the grant for the purchase of two 2016 Dodge Chargers at a cost of $23,975 each plus the fee to stripe the cruisers.
Supervisors authorized the additional money to match the grant with a unanimous vote at the Sept. 5 meeting following brief discussion on the matter.
“Where would we want to pull these funds from?” Board President Cayce Washington asked, as the sheriff’s budget did not have money for the grant match.
“Pull it out of the general fund, it has $2 million in it,” Gray recommended about using the county’s surplus money for the purchase.
“I will do that math all day long,” District Three Supervisor Lee McMinn explained about getting two cars for the price of one.
Sheriff Lance Humphreys explained that the grant had been applied for over three years ago and had only recently been awarded. He also said the cars are brand new, but are 2016 models left on the lot and offered at a discount.
“We will have basically a brand new fleet, the first time in 12 years,” the sheriff added.
Responding to a question from Washington, Hum-phreys said the cars will replace two older Ford pickups currently in use by the department, both with high miles. He also said he would like to keep one of trucks for use at the jail.
Humphreys also received the go ahead to seek bids to sell a 2014 Dodge Charger that was shot up on June 17 after a deputy was ambushed and had to fight for his life.
“The insurance company didn’t want it,” the sheriff explained about the bullet-riddled car. He also said that if no bids are received, the car will be sold for scrap value after some items are stripped from it.
The department had been limping along with aging vehicles for almost a decade before Humphreys was allocated money to purchase four new vehicles in the last two years. A portion of the money used for the previous vehicle purchases came from money the department receives from the U.S. Corps of Engineers to patrol areas of Grenada and Enid lakes that are in Yalobusha County, almost $50,000 annually that flows to the county.
But the department’s vehicle crunch started in 2008 after the U.S. Corps of Engineers drastically reduced the money for lake patrol allocated to the county following the recession. For years the sheriff’s department only had $5,600 allocated annually to purchase vehicles.
Supervisors also asked if some of the vehicles currently parked at the sheriff’s department could be sold to help clean up.
“I am working on that,” Humphreys said.
“Lee (McMinn) brought up a really good point a couple of meetings ago, we are out here hammering people about cleaning up their yards and we have a bunch of junk in the county. We need to lead by example and clean up some of our own stuff.
“We need to get rid of our stuff that we are not using,” Washington continued.
Last month supervisors worked for several days to clean up around the old jail on Calhoun Street in Water Valley, removing the fence and cutting bushes that had grown up since the building was vacated.
Other business conducted during the Sept. 5 meeting included:
• Entered executive session to discuss an application for a Capital Improvements Revolving Loan (CAP) in the amount of $6 million to purchase land and build a building as part of an anticipated expansion at Ajinomoto Windsor Foods in Oakland.
The CAP loan program is offered through the state and is designed to finance capital improvements for counties and municipalities. Funding for the loans is derived from the issuance of state bonds.
“Are we at a point to discuss this publicly?” Board Attorney John Crow asked as the topic first surfaced in the open meeting.
“Actually at the request of the industry, no,” Washington answered. “It’s probably an executive session item.”
“Yes, because we are negotiating for some land and we don’t have anything binding on that,” Crow said as supervisors agreed to discuss the matter in executive session.
(A notice to the public about the application is included on Page 8 under Public Notices.)
• Discussed a letter from Waste Management notifying the county that the garbage contract will not be renewed by the company.
Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn noted that the three-year contract that ends in April already had to be rebid.
“We kind of knew this was coming,” Washington added, referring to earlier correspondence with the company that they may pull out of the county or increase the rate for garbage pickup. Waste Management has provided curbside garbage pickup for unincorporated areas of the county since 2013. Before Waste Management, Resourceful Environmental Services (R.E.S.) had provided the service for 12 years.
• Approved a request from Coroner Ronnie Stark to share office space with District 1 Justice Court Judge Janet Caulder in a small building adjacent to the Coffeeville courthouse. The building had previously been utilized as an office for the sheriff’s department, but has been vacant for years as renovations were needed before Caulder was relocated from inside the Coffeeville courthouse to the out building.
Stark explained that he had requested the use of the office space previously, sharing earlier conversations he had with Board President Cayce Washington. He also said that he felt like his request had been pushed to the side. Stark added that his office is currently located in the Carother’s Building, which no longer has internet service, after all other county offices were moved out of the building. He also explained that he needs office space to store records and have internet access to be able to perform his job as coroner.
Washington said that he was favorable to putting Stark in the office with Caulder, a sentiment that was shared by other supervisors.
• Approved the school bus turnaround list for the Water Valley School District, an annual requirement that allows county crews to do work on private property if it is utilized for a bus turnaround.
• Renewed an emergency action plan presented by Yalobusha County EMA Director Frank Hyde, who explained the plan is renewed every five years and has not changed.
Hyde also received approval to utilize checks totaling over $5,243.15 received from Mississippi Emergency Management Agency for EMA equipment purchases including a computer upgrade.
Hyde also said he had installed two weather alert sirens, one at the Beat Three county barn and another at Windsor Foods.
• Approved the application presented by Tax Assessor/Collector Linda Shuffield for the levy of one mill to help defray reappraisal office expenses. She also reported that the aerial photography used for mapping in her office was updated in June at no charge to the county.
Shuffield also presented the homestead delete list, which is a listing of applicants that have been replaced or deleted.
“We had a good many that changed from regular homesteads, to over 65 or disabled,” Shuffield explained about the annual procedure.
Shuffield also presented the county’s public utility tax roll, which is centrally assessed in Jackson and each county receives their share of taxes on public utilities. Shuffield cited telephone poles, utility poles and railroad track as examples of public utilities taxed.
“It is actually a little increase this year,” Shuffield said about the value.
The final form presented by Shuffield for approval by the board was the uniform assessment schedule for trailers, a list generated from the Department of Revenue to show the value of trailers for taxation.
• Approved the minutes from August meetings.