Thursday, March 1, 2012
County cleanup gains interest
By SUE WATSON
The Great American Cleanup has finally arrived in Marshall County, igniting community action to improve the looks of individual roads and communities.
The Marshall County Board of Supervisors discussed a request from volunteers at the Matthews Corner/Mt. Siani area who asked supervisor George Zinn III for reflective vests.
“They want to step up what they are doing,” he said. “They want to use their children and look for inexpensive reflective gear for safety.”
The volunteers in Matthews Corner had researched what was taking place in DeSoto County and found volunteers were provided safety gear, he said.
The board worried that it could be liable if someone hurt himself, then wanted to sue the county for damages.
“If that gear does not say Marshall County, could the county be responsible for them picking up the county’s trash?” Zinn asked.
“I am thankful for what they are doing,” said supervisor Keith Taylor. “You just don’t know with sue-happy people nowadays.”
Attorney Kent Smith asked if the people are volunteers.
Supervisor Charles Terry said, “Don’t we encourage people to adopt a highway?”
Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett worried about the county being sued.
Smith suggested the reflective vests could be loaned out and returned. He said there are some legal immunities and that he would research it.
Other areas where volunteers have practiced communitywide cleanup are Deer Creek, Cayce and Hudsonville, a community that has an annual cleanup of the roadsides and ditches every year before the grass and weeds put out.
County administrator Larry Hall said the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality has a website where bags can be requested.
“We are no DeSoto County, but they are doing it to help and there is no reason why we can’t (provide vests),” said Zinn.
Terry asked about a new proposal that judges sentence those who cannot pay fines to community service, such as trash pickup.
Countywide cleanup has been set for March 12-26. Roll-off dumpsters will be set out at community centers and other locations where the public can throw in old furniture and castoffs, but not chemicals or household waste.
Next, supervisors discussed potential rollbacks in state funding for education, inventory tax and homestead exemption.
Terry said a meeting in Southaven on February 17 drew a number of leaders together to discuss funding education at the state level by the Legislature.
“We need to make sure education is fully funded,” he said. “The end results are that local taxes will have to be raised. We need to encourage citizens to get involved. There was very little said about charter schools.”
Bennett said charter schools would pull funding dollars away from public schools.
Terry said both local school boards and charter school boards would have to approve the measures and that citizens should call their legislators to ask what is going to happen.
“It’s going to come back to local governments to raise taxes, if it goes as it is,” he said.
Hall said citizens need to follow up to see how lawmakers vote.
“We need to make an effort to hold their feet to the fire,” said supervisor Eddie Dixon.
Terry announced that Education Committee chairs are Gray Tollison of Oxford for the Senate and John Moore for the House.
Bennett suggested the local delegation be invited to come to the board to answer questions about funding priorities and budget measures in Jackson.
Chancery clerk Chuck Thomas reported that lots of insurance agents have asked to come before the board to showcase their products. Both liability insurance and health insurance is being asked about, he said.
Taylor said he does not want to reduce coverage to employees.
“Are we satisfied with Aetna?” asked Zinn.
Smith said new bidders would need to receive specifications and know the claim history.
Smith said there may be ways to cut costs without losing benefits covered.
Zinn said companies should be able to bid.
“What’s wrong with hearing from them?” he asked.
Cathy Brittenum with the sheriff’s office asked to speak, saying she worked 20 years in insurance.
“Most insurance companies put (their products) out for bid every three years,” she said. “It’s to keep an agent honest and it is really about the commission.”
Without further discussion the board voted unanimously to put all insurance out for bids.
County road and bridge
Larry Hall brought up equipment needs. He recommended the board purchase five new Ford crew trucks on state contract.
They would replace worn out site supervisor trucks, he said, and cost about $26,600 each.
He also asked for a new 15-passenger van, costing $24,000.
The county’s new Mack trucks are paid off, he said. He asked to replace four John Deere tractors with side-mounted mowers and ditching attachments, and get four additional John Deere tractors with pull-behind mowers.
The board of supervisors approved the crew trucks and van and decided to wait for more information on the tractors.
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