Panola Co. spray is program not serving citizens

Published 4:54 pm Monday, May 20, 2019

Dear Editor,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Panola County Board of Supervisors and the people of Panola County for allowing me to try to establish a viable spray program for the county. I would also like to set some records straight about the actions which cut this program short.

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I have approximately 45 years of experience in the chemical industry with 27 years of application experience in the Mississippi agricultural chemical industry and 18 years in the highway vegetation management industry. I have a BS degree in Agronomy from Miss. State and a Commercial Chemical Applicators license, which requires certain educational college courses and passing required testing.

I have been very successful in the roadside vegetation management for Mississippi Department of Transportation covering 17 counties in the northwest section of Mississippi. I oversee the vegetation management on over approximately 40,000 acres annually.

I wanted to work with the county to develop a vegetation management program that would improve the safety and appearance of Panola County roadsides. The safer our roadsides are, and the nicer the roadsides appear, the better the conditions are to attract more people to our communities. The more people we have in our county the better the tax base and industry will look more favorable toward our county.

The Panola County vegetation program began last May under my supervision. I tried to work with the County Road Department but it was obvious that there would be no working together to improve the county. I very quickly learned that I was not wanted in the Road Department’s business., So, from the beginning of this program, it was doomed due to lack of communication and cooperation from the Road Department.

I accomplished everything that I originally offered the Panola County Board of Supervisors. I provided a good roadside spray program, a proven roadside limb spray program, handled all complaints without any loss, and kept all records required by the Mississippi Bureau of Plant Industry.

I also recommended a new spray system for the county truck. The Board of Supervisors were shown an advertisement of the spray system and them agreed to purchase the spray system. The truck, when it arrived back to the county, was obviously not what the county ordered. The county received only one-half of the spray system ordered and there were a multitude of used parts installed on the spray system. The workmanship was so poor live wires were left on the diesel tank and were arcing.

This could have been a disaster. This was the beginning of the end from my association with the county. I was accused of changing the Board’s order for the spray truck which was a total inaccurate statement, a complete lie.

I recommended to the Board that they not pay for the unusable spray rig they received. This last Board meeting the Board voted 3-2 to pay the spray company anyway. The spray system will require additional money and time to get the spray truck ready to use, and it will never be the system the county ordered.

There was a statement made in The Panolian last week by the Road Department where they assured the supervisors that their employees held the necessary training and application certificates to properly dispense and apply chemicals.

I know for a fact that approximately five employees went to Tunica for an educational class and testing and according to the Bureau of Plant Industry records no one employed with Panola County has a Certified Applicator’s Certificate.

Passing the certified applicator’s test is mandatory for receiving a certificate.

I would like to close by saying that I am concerned about the state of  Panola County’s vegetation management. I ask that the people of Panola County think about the liability of running a vegetation management program with people who are not familiar with herbicides and have very little or no experience with application.

Spray systems must be calibrated and regulated, and must be run by experienced employees to protect the citizens of Panola County. Experience in vegetation management programs is a must for a safe and viable chemical application program.


s/William Wigley

Environmental Chemical Applicator