Thursday, September 15, 2005

• Storm’s aftermath •
Recovery efforts slow some projects

Staff Writer

With state agencies still recovering from storm damage in Jackson last week and leaders redirecting attention to needs on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, paperwork will be a few weeks coming back to Marshall County on some state aid road projects, according to engineer Larry Britt.

“State aid is in flux without power last week; they all headed south and it will be a slow couple of weeks,” he said.

Right now that means that paperwork at state regarding Strickland Road improvements will be delayed. A state aid permit will also have to be submitted for right-of-way approval for gas lines to be laid from Byhalia’s gas utility down to Wingo Road in Chickasaw Industrial Park. The gas will supply the Exel facility under construction, Britt said. The board of supervisors tabled any action on the construction of gas lines from Byhalia until attorneys for the two local governments could discuss the matter of permits to do work on right-of-way.

Other concerns regarding gasoline supplies and transportation needs were aired at the meeting when County School District Superintendent Don Randolph told supervisors he had received notification from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) that gasoline and equipment could be commandeered from school districts if MEMA has to have it.

Randolph asked if the board of supervisors had been contacted by MEMA regarding fuel and equipment.

County administrator Larry Hall said the county had no telephone contact regarding that but has received a request for a list of equipment counties could supply if called upon.

Randolph asked about liability for equipment and providing people to operate equipment.

Marshall County Emergency Management director Hugh Hollowell answered that under statewide mutual aid agreements liability would be waived to counties if the state commandeered equipment.

“All agencies in the county are a part of MEMA and under those conditions can share,” he said.

Randolph said he understands and does not question the state’s priorities in the matter of the Gulf Coast needs.

“Maybe they are putting us on standby,” he said. “Even the vehicles you drive (county-owned pickups) - they can take them to use in an emergency.”

Hall passed along a personal account he knew of after visiting the southern affected counties. He said one county commandeered two or three shipments of fuel in order to get gas for their road department trucks.

“But gas is not a problem any more after Bush (President Bush) sent the cavalry in and gas won’t be a problem anymore,” Hall said.

Hollowell presented supervisors with several items he needed action on for emergency management paid for by a Homeland Security grant. The board approved a request for purchase of a one-ton truck to pull a Homeland Security trailer to haul hazardous materials handling equipment. The truck will be housed at the Holly Springs Fire Department, Hollowell said. The fire department will provide fuel, insurance and maintenance. The request included purchase of personal protective equipment and generators.

Supervisors discussed the communities’ actions to provide shelters in Holly Springs, Byhalia and Potts Camp and the fact that the shelters were not needed after all.

“If we don’t have to place a single person in a shelter, that’s a good thing,” Hollowell said. “It will be open if needed. But the best thing was to route evacuees to family and friends.”

Supervisor Keith Taylor said the items that were donated can be stored and will be ready for the next event.

Supervisor Eddie Dixon moved the meeting on to other topics. He said with an accumulation of limbs and debris following the wind damage from the hurricane, he wanted the big commercial dumpsters put back in the communities again. The board agreed and passed a motion to relocate dumpsters in the same voting precincts and areas as was done during community cleanup week. But, supervisors cautioned that the dumpsters are to collect debris, not household garbage or throw away items from home garages and sheds.

The board approved a contract renewal with Emergystat and denied a zoning complaint.

The zoning matter concerned a property in District 2 where a person brought a complaint regarding material stored in the back of a neighbor’s lot, said zoning director Conway Moore.

Board attorney Tacey Clark Clayton advised the board that if the material cannot be seen by the public then the matter is a private issue between the two parties.

The board approved claims for the month of August before going into executive session to discuss personnel matters. Total claims for the month came to $1,770,969. The figure was high for the month due to payment for road construction bills, according to chancery clerk Chuck Thomas.

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