County Culverts

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Few details told, but audit coming of county culverts

By Billy Davis

Prompted by a private citizen’s request, Panola County supervisors voted Monday to conduct an audit of culverts that have been purchased and installed by the county road department.

The request came from Crenshaw resident Bob Bryant, who told supervisors that a county equipment lot in Sardis remains unlocked, day and night.

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Bryant, who attends county meetings on a regular basis, is well known by supervisors as politically active.

He suggested that an audit date back to supervisors’ current term, in October 2007, and supervisors agreed to that request. The county’s fiscal year begins October 1.

An accounting of county materials would follow a recent admission that two county-owned culverts and 13 loads of dirt were dropped at a Sardis church at the request of town government. Sardis had publicly requested only a single load of dirt, however, according to board minutes.  

Sardis alderman Roy Scallorn said last week the small parcel is owned by New Rock Hill M.B. Church, which would have made the public project illegal.

Land records, reviewed at the county courthouse by The Panolian, show New Rock Hill church has owned the land since 1992.

The two 30-foot culverts have since been removed from the site, reportedly because they were the incorrect size to improve drainage.

Bryant told supervisors that cash-strapped county government has paid more than $200,000 for culverts during the current fiscal year. The road department budgeted $150,000 for 2010.

Road manager Lygunnah Bean, reached after the meeting, said the road department has stayed within its culvert budget. Even after some flooding this year, when monies were spent on large costly culverts, the emergency spending also stayed within budget, he said.

“I don’t know where that figure came from,” he said. “I just don’t think it’s right.”

Bean later contacted The Panolian and said the road department has spent $177,000 this year for culverts, with three weeks remaining in the fiscal year.

The equipment lot is located inside a fenced area along Highway 51, south of the highway, not far from the road department shop.  

Bean said the road department workers, to ease public concern, will likely move the culverts to the road department shop.  

 “We’ve never had any problems as far as I know,” he said.

The Board of Supervisors, after a motion from Bubba Waldrup, voted 4-0 to conduct the audit. Kelly Morris seconded Waldrup’s motion.

Supervisor Vernice Avant appeared to abstain from the vote.

After the vote, board president Gary Thompson said an accounting of county materials is “easily done” because the records are computerized.

The county board did not discuss who would perform the audit or any other particulars.