By Russell Hood
The Webster Progress-Times
Webster County leaders spent much time at their last two meetings discussing fire truck purchases.
Walthall Fire Chief Casey Henderson and county Fire Coordinator Barry Rushing addressed the Board of Supervisors on Jan. 31 concerning the possible purchase of fire trucks.
No action was taken then but Rushing returned Feb. 6 to continue the discussion. The board later voted to enter into a contract to buy a 2,500-gallon tanker pumper fire truck from Deep South Fire Trucks of Seminary for a purchase price of $91,700 for delivery in October or November. Payment will be made at the time of delivery. The board president was authorized to sign the contract on behalf of the county.
Discussion also resumed from the previous meeting about the possible purchase of a ladder truck via an auction bid. Rushing said the truck would be housed at the fire station in Walthall but be available for use anywhere in the county.
After further discussion and crafting the wording of a motion to enable purchase of the truck, supervisors voted to make an interfund loan of $11,600 from the General Fund to Volunteer Fire Levy to “pay for a fire truck that the county is about to purchase” for that price from the Lealman Fire Department in Tampa, Florida.
However, board attorney Buchanan Meek later confirmed that the county does not plan to go through with the purchase of the ladder truck. One reason, he said, is because the Walthall Fire Department plans to buy the truck with its own funds after its merger with the Bellefontaine FD is officially complete.
Additionally, Meek said, the county has since been advised by the state Auditor’s Office that it cannot buy the truck because of a legality concerning the buyer’s premium that is added to the purchase price. In auctions, the buyer’s premium is a percentage additional charge on a winning bid that must be paid by the winner. It is charged by the auctioneer to cover administrative expenses.
Meek said he expects the supervisors will consider a motion at Tuesday’s recessed meeting not to go through with the ladder truck purchase. The board is not meeting Monday as it normally would because it is President’s Day.
In another fire department matter, Rushing thanked the District 5 road crew and all fire department personnel who responded to a brush fire the week before on Mantee Road. He said the road crew first noticed the fire and started spraying water on it, and the Mantee and Walthall fire departments also responded. They were able to extinguish the fire, which Rushing said had encircled Jimmy Henley’s house within 5 feet of the structure.
Also on Feb. 6, board members authorized the county engineer to advertise for two bridge projects upon State Aid’s approval.
They also voted to write a letter of engagement with the Office of the State Auditor for the auditor to provide auditing services for the year ended Sept. 30, 2016. The fee is estimated at $26,800. The board selected the cash basis of accounting and appointed Chancery Clerk Russ as audit representative for that fiscal year.
Charlie Tharp with Sharp Machinery appeared before the board to discuss the purchase of a chip spreader.
On Jan. 3, in addition to previously reported business, minutes show the board voted to allow all supervisors, clerk and board attorney to attend the Mississippi Association of Supervisors’ Mid-Winter Conference, which was Jan. 3-5 in Jackson.
The board granted AT&T a use-and-occupancy agreement for construction of buried communications facility on Old Hwy. 82.
On Jan. 31, Toby Sanford of the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District addressed the board concerning the need for updates for the E-911 mapping system.
After hearing from Spencer Broocks of the GTPPD, the board voted to certify that the Mississippi Development Authority closeout report on the Small Municipalities Grant for demolition of the burned courthouse is true and correct.
In a related motion, the board voted to convey the old courthouse site to the village of Walthall.
The board also voted to request an extension of the contract of the Development Infrastructure Program Grant for the BK Edwards Fabrication and Welding access road project until June 30. According to a letter included as an exhibit in the minutes, the construction of the project on Parker Robertson Road is complete and the industry is close to completing the job creation.
Willy Weddle of Congressman Trent Kelly’s Eupora office addressed the board and introduced field representative Anna Lisa Roberts from Kelly’s Columbus office. Adam Grubbs also works out of that office.
Meek distributed copies of a proposed policy for the handling of unclaimed bodies, which was discussed at a previous meeting with Coroner Steve Wells.
Also on Jan. 31, the board approved motions to:
- authorize and directed the president and clerk to sign the fire contracts for fiscal year 2016-17, excluding Mathiston’s, and have the fire coordinator to forward them to insurance commissioner.
- allow Deputy Landon Griffin to attend the Criminal Investigator Certification Course that began Feb. 6 in Tupelo. Tuition is $850.
- authorize jailer Shay Holmes to attend a ServSafe class in Grenada on March 21 and 22.
- accept the gift of 80 pounds of used uniforms from the Mississippi State University Police Department for use by the Sheriff’s Department.
- designate 1157 Rock Mountain Road as a school bus turnaround.
Correction: A Jan. 25 article should have said that the Board of Supervisors voted Jan. 17 to set $500 per day as the amount of liquidated damages to be included in the proposed contract for the contractors of the courthouse. An incorrect amount was given.