Supervisors cover numerous items during meeting
The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors held a regular scheduled meeting on Wednesday in Poplarville and handled a number of routine agenda items and also followed up on some items from the previous meeting.
The board approved a bid and awarded a contract to Magco, Inc. of Laurel, MS, for the Oscar Smith Road Bridge Replacement project for $476,326.31.
County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin told the board that public defender Matthew Shoemaker has resigned to take a position with the Forrest County District Attorney’s office and will be replaced by Christina Holcomb. Andy Johnson will be named as the head public defender.
The board will hold a public hearing in conjunction with their scheduled board meeting on July 19, 2018, to allow the public an opportunity to review and make comments on the board recommended amendments to the Subdivision Regulations. The amendments were spearheaded by a draft of changes created by Vice President Hudson Holliday and discussed at the previous meeting. The board as a whole, feels these amendments will help allow the county grow, and not hinder, new developments.
Also during the meeting, the board announced that the June 5th election cost the county $28,548.00 for 164 poll workers for 3,509 voter cards cast (10.78% voter turnout of 32,564 registered voters across 25 precincts.
County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin, in announcing the cost and turnout of the June 5 election, added “If this state really wanted to save money on elections, they’d go to an open primary, everybody throws their name in the hat, vote at one table, and the top two vote getters have run off.”
County Attorney Joe Montgomery suggested an option might be to mail the ballots out like other states, particularly western states, do for their voting population. Lumpkin stated that the 38 cent mailing cost would be a cheaper option than the current process.
Also during the meeting, the board discussed bus turnarounds with school superintendents and transportation directors from Picayune, Pearl River County (Central), and Poplarville school districts. The board had asked the schools to attend the meeting to discuss how they might share cost and ensure they, both the board and schools, are working together to avoid unneeded turnarounds put in place. The county spends around $200,000.00 per year maintaining bus turnarounds.
District 2 Supervisor Malcolm Perry asked the school districts to look how they might be able to share or even split costs with the county with the districts paying for the materials needed for creating and maintenance of the turnarounds with the county providing the labor.
District 3 Supervisor and Board Vice President Hudson Holliday said he is always concerned about safety, just like the schools, and he does not want to put a burden on anyone, but in some cases people need to be told they’ll have to make arrangements to bring their children down a private road to a public road where the bus stop might be established.
County Administrator Adrian Lumpkin noted another issue that he explained with a recent event. Lumpkin said a lady came to his department and made a request to one of his department’s employees for a bus turnaround on a private road. When asked what did the real estate agent tell you when you bought this house, Lumpkin said the lady the agent told her “Yes, it’s a private road, but all you have to do is go to your school folks to put it on a bus turnaround and the county’s going to maintain it.”
Lumpkin said the lady said the road was in bad shape, but the real estate agent told her this all you have to do to get the road maintained. Lumpkin added that he understands that people are trying to sell property and houses, but this shouldn’t be a way to get roads and driveways fixed.
Board President and District 5 Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith said he believes that are times people need to be told “no” in response to a bus turnaround request and that he has no problem saying no when he thinks it is the right thing to do in turning down a request when it is not warranted. Smith also said he knows of incidents in the past that the system was abused by allowing turnarounds that probably should have never been approved, but now the county is stuck maintaining those.
Lisa Beech, PRC schools Transportation Director, said she gets calls throughout the year and in most cases, she tells the requestor no in response to a bus turnaround request.
“There are a lot of requests that you all never hear about because we’ve already said no,” stated Beech.
Beech also presented a plaque to County Road Manager Charlie Schielder thanking him and the county for the good job they do maintaining the bus turnarounds.
Through further discussion between the schools and board, they agreed they need to share responsibility on whether a turnaround is approved. The board will create some guidelines for how cost can be shared and submit it to the respective school boards to address and put in each school district’s budget.