By Kevin Edwards
BC Staff Writer
The members of the board of supervisors, along with other Bolivar County elected officials, took oaths of office at the Courthouse in Cleveland before walking across the street to the annex building for the monthly meeting.
Supervisor Larry King will serve as president of the board and former board president Supervisor Donny Whitten will serve as vice president.
“I’d like to offer my sincere appreciation to the past board that allowed me to serve them and the citizens of Bolivar County the last two years in this position as president of the board,” Whitten said. “It’s been a sincere honor and I’ve enjoyed working with each and every member and the various department heads in the county and also the citizens.”
King was similarly appreciative.
“Thank you all, board members, for appointing me president of the board,” King said. “I certainly appreciate working with the board for the past eight years. It’s my third term now and I’m grateful for that.”
The board welcomed two new members, Jacorius Liner from District 1 and Olanda Morton from District 3.
“I just wanted to tell citizens of District 1, the entire Bolivar County, that I am so grateful for them having elected me, entrusting me in leading us and working collaboratively with my colleagues to move this county forward and our district, and I look forward to working with these gentlemen,” said Liner.
“Me and Mr. Morton look forward to working with you all and I am excited. I just wanted to tell you all that I am profoundly humbled for this opportunity and I look forward to serving with integrity, high character and doing what you all put me here to do,” he added.
James McBride of District 4 will remain in his seat pending the ruling on Joseph White’s petition of the August runoff election results.
The board voted to confirm heads of the various departments in one motion: James Pritchett and Lee Chatman as road manager and assistant road manager, respectively; Robert Eley and the firm Eley Barkley PA as county engineers; Michael Lamb as director of emergency management assistance; Joe Phillips as fire coordinator; Bill Quinton as code enforcer; Dorothy Lewis as justice court clerk; Ellis Turnage as board attorney; Brenett Haynes as board comptroller; and Will Hooker as interim county administrator.
Though Hooker has now been sworn in as county tax assessor and collector, the board will keep him on as county administrator on a rolling three-month basis.
“Because of the major projects that we have going on currently, the Expo, the county fire department, Terrine Landing over in Rosedale, (Hooker) would be an invaluable asset and absolutely needed,” Liner said. “What we’re going to do as a board is allow him to serve in that capacity in an interim role.
“We’ll evaluate it every three months and over the next three weeks we are going to advertise for an assistant county administrator to work directly with him, learning the county, all of the nuances, and at that point when we feel that that person, at the direction of Mr. Will Hooker, has done a great enough job, has learned all and can take the reins as county administrator, then we will absolutely make that decision. “
Once housekeeping was out of the way the board was able to move to the business of the county.
Sheriff Kelvin Williams said due to the statewide lockdown by the Mississippi Department of Corrections, inmates couldn’t perform jobs on work release until the lockdown is lifted.
Though the last escapee from Parchman was apprehended Monday, the Bolivar County Regional Correctional Facility remained on lockdown as of Tuesday.
County engineer Eley welcomed both Liner and Morton to the board and offered any assistance he can provide.
“If either one of you have an interest in learning some of the details about some of the complexities about the 1,000-plus miles of county roads and the bridges, 234 bridges that the county maintains, any other questions, whatever it may be for the county engineer, please feel free to reach out to us and we’ll be happy to give you as much information as we possibly can on that,” said Eley.
The bridge on West Mound Bayou Road over Six Mile Lake is nearly complete, but weather has prevented finishing work on the approaches to the bridge.
“As soon as weather permitting and water levels are fitting and so forth, the contractor will be back to work out there getting that project open to traffic,” Eley said. “That bridge is still currently closed.”
The Bolivar County Expo Center will soon be closed to allow contractors to devote their attention to the full facility for renovations.
“The board of supervisors last year made the decision not to fully shut down (the expo) because there were people who had made arrangements scheduled up to a year in advance,” Hooker said.
However he said following the Delta Ag Expo next week, there would be no more reservations until renovations are complete.
“Once we finish that out, the entire annex operation will shut down so we are going to give it fully to the contractor so we can expedite the renovations for the board.”
Due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 20, the second board meeting of the month will be held the day after on Tuesday at 9 a.m.