Crenshaw Trash Pick-Up

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 12, 2008

Panola County Administrator Kelley Magee (standing, left) made a 40-minute drive to Crenshaw to hand deliver a letter to the town’s aldermen. Aldermen (from left) Patricia Dodson, David Whitsell and Alberta Bradley received notice that Panola County Solid Waste promises to “pick up our cans” if the town fails to pay its monthly bill. Mayor Sylvester Reed also received the letter from Magee. The Panolian photo by Billy Davis

Supervisors threaten to halt trash collection in Crenshaw

By Billy Davis

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Panola County supervisors on Monday approved a pay-or-else letter for the town of Crenshaw, demanding monthly payments, without interruption, for weekly trash pick-up.

In the letter, the county demands payments for service in November and December, and a “plan on how to resolve this matter,” referring to a bill that has climbed to more than $44,000.

The county also promises in the letter to “pick up our cans” if payment is not made by December 15, or if the town fails to make even a single payment in the future. 

“If you fail to make a payment, the following Tuesday we will pick up the garbage cans,” the letter concludes. 

Crenshaw’s mayor and aldermen, who gathered Monday evening for a called meeting, received copies of the letter from county Administrator Kelley Magee.

“I knew y’all were meeting and wanted to visit you in person,” said Magee, who was eventually shooed out of the room by Mayor Sylvester Reed.

Crenshaw’s town government collects garbage bills for each residence and is supposed to forward those fees to Panola County Solid Waste.

A Solid Waste spokesman said that department charges each Crenshaw residence $8.25, but town residents receive a bill for more than that amount and town government keeps the difference.

Some Crenshaw residents may not know how much they pay for garbage service, since each residence receives a single bill each month for trash service, water and sewer. Reed did not return a phone call Tuesday asking the amount withheld by Crenshaw town government.

The monthly bill for the entire town totals $3,351 plus a catch-up payment of $300 for arrearage. The letter states the total bill currently stands at $44,241.

The demand for action from Crenshaw comes as Panola County government is three months into a tight budget year. Magee has said she is poring over the budget to ensure the county’s finances stay strong.

The Panolian reported last week that Crenshaw’s town government has failed to pay its monthly fee to Panola County Solid Waste four times this year, most recently in November.

The Panolian story also reported that Reed is blaming former mayor Oscar Barlow for arrearage that he is currently paying off.

Reed beat Barlow in the mayor’s race to win his first term, and Barlow has announced his intention to run to win back the mayor’s seat.

After that story published, Barlow contacted The Panolian to state that Crenshaw town government was paying $5,000 a month in arrearage when Reed began serving as mayor.

“We were paying to catch up and he stopped it,” Barlow said of Reed.

A pay-or-else demand from Solid Waste is not new for Panola County government. Supervisors sent a letter to Como last spring, too, demanding that it begin forwarding citizens’ bills to the county.

Former county Administrator David Chandler said at the time that Como, then mired in a financial crisis, was seven months behind in its payments.

Supervisors approved the letter in early April and two weeks later Como aldermen were voting to pay a past-due bill of totaling $28,151.

Panola County Solid Waste did receive payment for $28,151, said department spokesman Jennifer Jackson. Como pays $3,448 a month and has gotten one month behind, she said.

“They’re paying $250 a month to catch up,” Jackson said. 

Como aldermen also agreed to set up a separate account to pay Solid Waste. In Crenshaw, citizens send town hall a single payment for trash service, water and sewer.

Prior to the Crenshaw meeting, Magee introduced herself to Crenshaw’s aldermen and town clerk Renee Ward, and handed each person a copy of the letter. Reed arrived last at the meeting and received the letter, too.

Once the meeting began, aldermen voted 2-2 to go into executive session to discuss hiring police officers. Reed broke the tie and approved the executive session.

With the board then moving into a closed meeting, Magee passed out her business card to Ward and the alderman, prompting the mayor to tell her, “I don’t feel comfortable that you’re still here.”

Alderman Alberta Bradley then stopped Magee to ask if she wanted to address the board, but Reed pointed out – correctly – that the board must follow the agenda of a called meeting.

 “That’s state law,” the mayor told Magee.

Monday’s agenda included the hiring of police officers, and scheduled visits from Rolando Foods president Roland Butler and the mayor of Sledge. Butler and the Sledge mayor were no-shows at the meeting.

The executive session lasted about an hour, and aldermen voted 2-2 to hire a police officer. Reed again broke the tie and voted for the hiring.

Bradley told a reporter after the meeting that Reed and the board discussed other issues that included problems at the police department and the board’s opinion of Police Chief Darryl Linzy.