Public Job Openings

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2008

County officials air views of making job openings public

By Billy Davis

Panola County elected officials are voicing varying opinions about a potential hiring policy that would publicize county job openings.

“I don’t like it because I hire who I want to hire anyway – educated, trained people,” Sheriff Hugh “Shot” Bright said Monday when polled by The Panolian about his support for posting jobs.

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 “My opinion is mixed,” said Tax Collector/Assessor David Garner. Garner said he once publicized job openings via newspaper ads but now relies on word of mouth to fill a position.

“I’ve had 30-something people come through here. You don’t know who you’re hiring when you rely on a piece of paper,” said Garner. “I’d rather go hire somebody I know.”

State law does not require Panola County government to publicize the more than 250 jobs that range from office workers to truck drivers. The topic surfaced June 9 when supervisors and County Administrator David Chandler discussed a new hiring to lead the solid waste department.

At that meeting, board president Robert Avant instructed Chandler to “go on and hire somebody.” That directive drew an inquiry from Bob Bryant, a Crenshaw resident often attends  county meetings, about Panola County government’s hiring policy.

Since that meeting, District 4 Supervisor Kelly Morris has told The Panolian that he plans to ask the five-man board to create a policy of publicizing job openings. The supervisor said he was motivated to examine the county’s hiring policy over the lack of a public notice for the solid waste manager’s job.

In March Morris failed to find a second on the board when he asked his colleagues to park their county-owned pickup trucks at the courthouse and use them only for county business. But Morris said last week he feels confident the board can cooperate on creating a job-posting policy.

Polled about a new hiring policy, Chancery Clerk Jim Pitcock said Monday that he agrees with the idea of posting job openings. He added, however, that posting a job opening in his office may be unnecessary since he often has a person ready to fill the open slot.

“I certainly see nothing wrong with giving people the opportunity to apply for a job,” said Pitcock.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” Circuit Clerk Joe Reid said of posting job openings.

Asked if they would abide by a new job posting rule if supervisors approved it, Reid, Pitcock and Garner said they would follow any new rules set by the county board.

“Whatever they vote to do I’ll be supportive of it,” said Pitcock.

“I’ll do what I’ve got to do,” replied Bright, who did not elaborate about his answer.

The Panola County Board of Supervisors is set to meet Friday at 4 p.m. for a recess meeting.