The no-run rule 12/11/12

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Constable asks sheriff to follow no-run rule

By Billy Davis

Panola County Constable Raye Hawkins challenged the sheriff’s department Monday to include its employees in a county rule that forbids employees from seeking public office while employed by county government.

Employees of the sheriff’s department are exempt from the no-run rule that applies to all other county employees.

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The sheriff’s department has traditionally followed its own set of by-laws for employee conduct, though it’s unclear why and for how long.

The sheriff’s department currently follows its own personnel policy, Panola County Administrator Kelley Magee told Hawkins Monday.

Hawkins commented on the rule at the Board of Supervisors meeting in Batesville, though he was also talking to Sheriff Dennis Darby and Chris Franklin, the chief deputy, who were in attendance.

The constable found a sympathetic ear from Supervisor Kelly Morris, whose opponents in 2011 included a sheriff’s deputy in the Democratic Primary. He is no longer employed at the department.

Hawkins squeaked out a win in 2011 against Albert Perkins, a sheriff’s investigator. About 6,700 ballots were cast last August and Hawkins won re-election by 227 votes.

Both Hawkins and Morris claimed Monday that sheriff’s department employees were allowed to campaign on county time and use a county automobile, though that accusation wasn’t made public during the election last year.

Sheriff Darby, who is serving his first term, told Hawkins the department would address the issue but did not state if it would enact the no-run rule.

“It’s unenforceable,” Hawkins replied, since deputies are on their own and without supervision while on the county’s time.

“If they’re on patrol, we can monitor their activity,” Darby said.

“Or you can change your by-laws,” Morris added.
In other county business:

•Supervisors fielded a request from the City of Sardis for major dirt work at the city’s lagoon.
Public Works director Bubba McDowell made the request, saying it would require county equipment for as much as 30 days. He suggested the use of a track hoe.

The levee has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality, McDowell said.

Road manager Lygunnah Bean said the county road department has looked at the lagoon, and “thousands of loads of dirt” are needed to shore up the levees.

McDowell said he had considered renting some heavy equipment for the project.

County Engineer Larry Britt suggested that McDowell seek an emergency grant through North Delta Planning and Development in Batesville.

•William Pride asked supervisors to waive a $210 Solid Waste fee that he said was incorrectly billed to him instead of family members.

Pride also told the county board he does not pay a monthly Solid Waste fee at his home, instead hauling his trash to the dumpster at his automobile dealership in Batesville.

Supervisor Morris reminded Pride that every residence is required to have a garbage can.

“I pay $75 a month for a dumpster for my business and I still have to pay for a garbage can,” said Morris, who operates a lawn care business from his home.

Board attorney Bill McKenzie said the Board of Supervisors has heard requests for exemptions “from every different angle,” and all of them are denied.

The board attorney suggested that Pride go before a hearing officer over the disputed bill.

•Chief Deputy Franklin said the sheriff’s department was not opposed to reimbursing the Town of Crenshaw for a deputy’s police academy training.

The sheriff’s department hired the deputy, Adam Kirkwood, from the Crenshaw Police Department.

Franklin said he planned to review an Attorney General’s opinion before agreeing to the reimbursement.

Supervisors voted unanimously to take Crenshaw’s request under advisement.

•The county board accepted the hiring of two part-time jailers at $10 per hour. Sheriff Darby said the hirings are Preston Gleaton and Tim Campbell.

•Supervisors accepted a request from Panola Emergency Management to purchase an SUV for the county office. Panola EMA director Daniel Cole made the request.