My Town

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2008

My town not paying its bill, says resident

By Billy Davis

Panola County supervisors Monday heard an unusual suggestion from a Crenshaw resident: cut off the town’s garbage service for its failure to pay its bill.

Bob Bryant made the request on the premise that he and other town residents pay their garbage fees to town hall each month, but those payments are not forwarded to the county’s solid waste department.

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Bryant has become a political activist in the little town, where he attends town meetings and presses town officials about Crenshaw’s worrisome finances. He occasionally attends supervisor meetings, too.

“The arrearage for garbage fees, from August 2005 to November of 2008, is almost $8,000,” Bryant told supervisors.

Crenshaw agreed to a payment plan to catch up on its arrearage but is not honoring the agreement, Bryant also said.

“My question is how we’re paying for the county’s services but the county’s not getting my money,” he added. “I would rather pay the county myself and know you’re getting my money.”  

“We’re contacting them every month” about the garbage fees, replied County Administrator Kelley Magee.

In other county business:

•Supervisors heard an appeal from homeowner Scott Harrison about expansion plans at Memphis Stone and Gravel. The board tabled any action until supervisors view the site.

“This is all about money,” Harrison told the board. “They’re not giving anything back to the community.”

The county land development commission voted in October to recommend allowing Memphis Stone to add a new phase of strip mining at its Highway 35 operation.

City of Batesville officials have voted to allow the business to expand into new leased land, and Harrison is suing the city in circuit court to reverse that decision.

An attorney for Memphis Stone spoke on behalf of the business. Memphis Stone president Hal Williford and company geologist Alan Parks also spoke to defend their operation.

•Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons, joined by the Partnership board, advised supervisors that preliminary work has been completed on the county’s newest industrial site, located near the county airport.

“We still anticipate some projects coming,” Simmons said.

The Partnership CEO had originally asked for an executive session to discuss a confidential land negotiation, but in closed session supervisors determined that the executive session was not necessary. Simmons then discussed the airport property in the open session.

•Batesville businessman William Pride asked supervisors to consider contributing to the Panola County Community Foundation endowment that is part of the non-profit Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi.

The board took no action on the request.

Panola County is seeking a $100,000 endowment.

“We’ve raised $22,000 so far,” Pride told the board.

Board attorney Bill McKenzie advised Pride that the county must investigate the non-profit to determine if a so-called local-and-private agreement must be secured before the county can contribute.

•Magee advised supervisors that the county had “closed funding” for two agencies, the self-help housing agency and the Panola County Housing Authority. Both agencies had been overseen by former administrator David Chandler.

•Farrish Gravel Road resident J.T. Parker, supported by his neighbors, asked supervisors to resurface their road.

Responding to Parker, road manager Lygunnah Bean explained that a tight budget year meant most county roads were passed over for resurfacing this year.

“The roads we resurfaced were done with State Aid money,” he said.