Supervisors taking on illegal dumping again
By Jeremy Weldon
In an ongoing effort to clean up Panola County, the Board of Supervisors voted this week to purchase a new camera system, including car tag readers, to aid in the detection, and hopefully prosecution, of illegal dumpers.
Emergency Operations coordinator Daniel Cole has been working on the problem for the supervisors since he was hired, and the board has tried a variety of game and motion-activated cameras to combat the illegal dumping in rural parts of the county with little or no success.
Cole said the new type cameras, some no larger than a fountain pen, can be easily concealed and now offer video capability.
Also, he said, the tag reading recorders give law enforcement a much clearer picture of a vehicle’s tag and increases the chance of positively identifying illegal dumpers.
Cole advised the board to purchase just one camera and monitor the pictures for quality before buying more for other parts of the county.
The supervisors were reminded that successful prosecutions for illegal dumping are rare because defense attorneys convince judges their clients cannot be positively identified from pictures taken by most camera systems.
Board president Cole Flint suggested the county get new lawyers and judges, but settled for the camera.
In other business the Board of Supervisors:
• Approved the re-classification of 1.49 acres of property on Hwy. 6 East from agricultural to commercial on property owned by Adrian Smith.
The Panola County Land Commission recommended the request for the strip of land 75×867 on the south side of the highway for approval.
The owner needed the rezoning to allow for a commercial billboard to be constructed on the property.
• Began the process of setting a public hearing for the cleaning of property at 1663 Bell Road. The property is an abandoned 80×35 mobile home with a 14×16 attached porch, complete with underpinning and footings.
The structure burned several years ago and neighbors have long complained about the eyesore.
County land commission code enforcement officer Chad Meek told the board he asked Brocato Construction of Batesville to submit a quote for the demolition of the structure and cleaning of the property because that company is licensed, bonded, and insured for that type of work.
Meek said any company qualified to do that type of demolition work can also bid on the cleaning of property by contacting his office.
The cost of the property cleaning, and associated fines, will be added to the property’s taxes. Those assessments will be paid by the owners, or eventually by the purchaser when the property is sold again.
Meek’s office has begun identifying the properties in a state of disrepair that generate the most complaints from neighbors. He documents the condition of the property and notifies the owner of record of the supervisors’ intention of adjudicating the property for cleaning if action is not taken to clean and improve the appearance.
• Voted to purchase a wildland fire vehicle (three-quarter ton truck equipped for fire fighting use) for the Pope Fire Department for $24,810.
Cole told supervisors the Pope department agreed to repay the truck cost to the county in five equal years installments.
• Agreed to sell nine dump trucks and purchase nine new replacements for the road department.
The trucks have relatively low mileage, about 50,000 each, but have no dealer warranty remaining.
Road manager Lygunnah Bean told supervisors he would rather keep the trucks, but repairs for break-downs, especially in the electrical systems, are often more expensive than keeping trucks with factory warranties intact.
Bean said he intends to use the reverse auction system for the sale and purchase of dump trucks, which gives dealers more incentive to offer the county their best net pricing.
• Gave Bean permission to purchase, for $259,900 a Sandvick screen plant the county has been renting for $15,000 a month the past two months.
Bean said the screen plant, used to separate usable rock from excavated dirt, has performed better than expected and has been an asset to county road operations.
The company selling the machinery agreed to take the rental money paid by the county off the original purchase price of almost $300,000, Bean reported.
Bean also asked to hire John H. Ford for the road department, and the board granted the request.
• Agreed to recognize 278A Ruby Road as an official school bus turnaround address, giving the county authority to maintain whatever part of that road necessary for buses to use.
• Voted to advertise for bids for feeding of prisoners and commissary service at the county jail.
• Accepted the recommendation of county administrator Kate Victor to award Bruce Fondren the job of stripping and waxing all the floors at both the Sardis and Batesville courthouses.
Service Master also submitted a quote for the work, but Fondren’s was considerably less, Victor said.
• Gave permission to Sheriff Dennis Darby to present Tony Ware with the service weapon he used during his employment with the sheriff’s department. Ware retired May 15.
• Approved the hiring of Jimmy Gipson as part-time process server to replace the retired Ware.