By Russell Hood
The Webster Progress-Times
Webster County will hire a company to provide services for the special election on the question of replacing or rebuilding the courthouse.
Circuit Clerk Deborah Hood Neal and Deputy Clerk Wanda Robinson met with the Board of Supervisors last week about preparations for the advisory election. The non-binding referendum will be April 8 on the issue of replacement or rebuilding of the Webster County Courthouse, which burned nearly 13 months ago.
On Feb. 5, Neal presented a proposal from Election Systems & Software, which has an office in Jackson, to program the voting machine ballot as proposed for $2,750. After some discussion, the board approved a motion to “submit the courthouse question to the voters as originally proposed and to hire ES&S to facilitate this.”
Voters will cast ballots at their regular polling places on April 8. However, those in the Walthall precinct will vote at the Walthall Fire Department because the courthouse had been the polling place there.
Voters will select one of two options: whether they support construction of a new courthouse, to be located somewhere in the county seat of Walthall; or if they support the restoration and rebuilding of the existing courthouse that was damaged by fire on Jan. 17, 2013.
Wanda Vowell, former circuit clerk in Choctaw County who is now serving as regional voter ID coordinator, addressed the board Feb. 5. She discussed voter ID requirements, which take effect with the June primary, and distributed a brochure of frequently asked questions.
Eupora Mayor Dan Burchfield, who is also the local economic development contact person, addressed the board. He said he had been approached by investors seeking new buildings or property for buildings. No action was taken.
On Jan. 21, minutes reflect that Bonita Martin, Sharon Holmes and Sammie Slaughter of Regions Bank addressed the board concerning a new bill-paying system. EMA Director/Fire Coordinator Barry Rushing also addressed the board.
Supervisors voted to designate Delta Computer Systems as official records as to Webster County land records, according to the minutes, with paper filing terminated as of Jan. 1. The board voted to note on the minutes that Tiffany Guess was terminated as a sheriff’s office dispatcher on Jan. 8.
After meeting with County Engineer Karl Grubb and State Aid Engineer Jerry Gilliland on Jan. 31, the board voted to enter into a utility agreement with AT&T to bury fiber-optic cable along and across Lawrence Drive and Industrial Park Road for $1,288.67, and to close a state aid project with B&M Paving.
Supervisors voted to designate the temporary Board of Supervisors meeting room to be at the county-owned “Doss Building, effective that day. The board meets in the west end, which has been renovated for election-related purposes. The building is located at 2980 E. Roane Ave. in Eupora across from Ansell-Hawkeye.
The board voted to pay a $375 invoice from Netcomm Wiring to the circuit clerk. No requisition was signed, services were performed and the board felt that it should be paid, according to the minutes.
On Feb. 3, the board opened proposals for professional services in connection with the 2012 HOME Grant to demolish and reconstruct three dilapidated houses in the county. After taking them under advisement, proposals were accepted from Pearson Environmental Services of Byram for asbestos inspection and Metro Home Inspectors of Jackson for building inspector services.
The county is readvertising for surveyor and legal services because only one proposal was received for each. Housing Specialist Patsy Patterson of the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District said lone proposals cannot be accepted; therefore those two were rejected.
Chancery Clerk Russ Turner informed the board that the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office had approved the amended interlocal agreement establishing the Regional Economic Partnership of Mississippi. Webster County entered into the amended agreement with Choctaw and Montgomery counties on Dec. 31.
Also on Feb. 3, the board:
• received an updated report on the Justice Court clearing account from Justice Court Clerk Janice Brunty. She said the collection of delinquent fines by a new collection agency is working well.
• voted to change the name of “Paige Road” in District 4 to “Page Road” because it was misspelled. The name will be corrected on all road signs and 911 records.
• appointed Chief Deputy Jeffrey Mann as a deputy Justice Court clerk with no extra pay
• voted to accept the January grand jury report and spread a copy on the minutes.
• heard a presentation from Helena Chemical representative Greg Wall of Sturgis about roadside herbicide spraying.
• went into executive session about 30 minutes to discuss a personnel matter; no action was taken.
Robert Hitt (District 1) was absent Feb. 5 because of illness. The board meets again at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.