Thursday, February 16, 2006

County seeks tips to catch vandals

Staff Writer

The Marshall County Board of Supervisors authorized rewards to anyone providing information leading to the arrest and conviction of vandals who destroy or cart off county road signs.

Simply replacing signs is costing too much, said several supervisors including Ronnie Joe Bennett and Keith Taylor.

Taylor said keeping up signs in certain areas in his district has been a problem with vandals taking away replaced signs about as fast as new ones are put back up.

Bennett said certain signs in his district are repeatedly vandalized, too.

He said when signs are removed it puts the county at risk for liability should an ambulance making a call not be able to locate the address.

Board attorney Tacey Clark Clayton agreed.

“You have big exposure on the liability side if an ambulance can’t find someone,” she said.

Bennett said he believes the vandalism to be the work of youngsters but nevertheless the problem needs to be addressed before worse consequences result.

“We need to put pressure on the mamas and daddies,” he said.

County road manager Larry Hall said the reward money the county forks out will more than make up for the cost of replacing road signs. Road sign vandalism is taking place in all districts, supervisors said.

Another problem is the time delay in ordering new road signs and getting them in, compounding the potential liability, Bennett said.

With that discussion, Taylor motioned the county offer reward for information providing it is legal for the county to pay such a reward. The motion passed unanimously.

Tips can be reported anonymously to CrimeStoppers by calling 1-800-729-2169 or the sheriff’s office at 662-252-1311. All calls will be kept confidential.

In other road and bridge matters, Hall reported purchase of bridge parts from Tunica County. The used spans will save the county between 10 and 20 percent on the cost of rebuilding bridges, he said.

Supervisor George Zinn III asked for pothole repair on the west end of Hernando Road and on St. Paul.

“After this freeze we will have lots of them,” Hall said. New batches of cold mix asphalt are ready to go, he said.

Supervisors rescinded a motion made last week to allow Coker Consultants to apply for a $350,000 Mississippi Development Authority Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME) grant, opting to take up the matter with the Northeast Mississippi Planning and Development District, instead.

The board’s notice of a public hearing set for February 24 at 5 p.m. in the county boardroom will still be held as announced. The public is invited to comment at this hearing.

County Emergency Management coordinator Hugh Hollowell announced that Mississippi is eligible for about $5 million in storm shelter and safe room monies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Gulf Coast counties will be first in line for assistance with other counties getting any money left over, he said.

Application forms can be obtained at Hollowell’s office.

The grants would award up to $3,500 to private individuals toward purchase of a shelter costing about $5,000 and about $5,000 toward the cost of a community shelter that would house about 40 people standing.

Bennett suggested the $5 million state allocation would not go very far. Hall said the stipend would be divided among applicants rather than going to a few who filed applications first. There are no income restrictions for individuals making application for either an in-home or outdoor underground shelter.

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