ABERDEEN – Action taken by the board of supervisors this spring was revisited Aug. 23 as three supporters of kratom requested county leaders to overturn their decision of a countywide ban on the herb-based product.
Possession, sale and use of kratom has been a misdemeanor offense in Monroe County since the ban went into effect in May.
“It’s heartbreaking I live in a county now where it’s banned. Now I’m a criminal because I still take kratom,” said Sherry Owings, who said it has helped her find relief from a wreck years ago, which resulted in her taking painkillers.
Members of the Crime and Addiction Task Force of the Lowndes County Foundation requested for supervisors to pass the ban in March.
“We heard a different side of the story,” said board president Billy Kirkpatrick of that meeting. “What really troubled us was the fact that with convenience stores, someone should regulate this. I wish FDA or someone would say ‘This is safe’ or ‘This is not safe.’ What this board did was an attempt to protect our young people. I understand your story but I hope you understand our story.”
Vicky Rose, who said she doesn’t live in Monroe County, spoke in defense of kratom users.
“Stop making criminals out of peace-loving citizens. You’re putting the lambs in jails with the wolves. People are peaceful, and they’re not hurting anybody. We have 4,000 non-violent offenders in our jails in Mississippi right now, and you’re going to be adding more non-violent offenders because they’re trying to preserve their right to work and their right to take care of their families,” she said.
Lesley Gray referred to a recent USA Today article about the 25 most dangerous substances and said kratom was not on the list but said Tylenol ranked at the top.
In other business, chancery clerk Ronnie Boozer said there will be no tax levy increase as far as the county is concerned. He said the county files debt service on the Nettleton School District with Lee County, and there were discrepancies regarding some figures.
“Overall, the budget looked good on all primary categories,” Boozer said.
One point noted during the meeting was the road department’s budget showing an increase, but road manager Sonny Clay said it’s because of federal money flowing through due to aftermath of the April 13 tornadoes.
Additionally, Boozer said there was funding transferred from the general fund to the 911 budget due to lack of revenue with the decline of landline customers.
“This is a seven- or eight-year downward trend that’s consistent. At some point the [Mississippi] Association [of Supervisors] is going to have to step in and maybe with the emergency management association do a joint effort, and the legislators are going to have to do something on the cell phone bills to get the funding back up to the way it was,” said District 1 Supervisor Joseph Richardson.
A public hearing regarding the Fiscal Year ’19-’20 budget will be held Sept. 6 at 9 a.m. during the board of supervisors meeting.
Last week’s supervisors meeting included a public hearing about the county’s intent to apply for a USDA rural development grant for a skid steer. The USDA wants to designate funds by Sept. 30.
Raymond Lochridge, who has appeared before supervisors in previous meetings about a delinquent garbage bill stemming from his property’s former residents, offered to pay a portion of the bill as his final way attempt dealing with it. Kirkpatrick said the county would try one more time to work with Three Rivers Planning and Development District one more time to resolve the issue.
Curtis Rainey approached the board about a blue line stream that keeps flooding his property. He said during dry weather conditions, one side of his driveway floods and during heavy rains, he cannot get in and out of his driveway.
After discussion, the board approved to pass a resolution to request Tombigbee River Valley Water Management District to help. County officials said there is a long waiting list for TRVWMD projects and it’s the decision of the agency’s board of directors if it will pursue the project.
Board attorney David Houston said Boozer received notices regarding 22 bankruptcy cases filed in the southern bankruptcy court district of New York indicating Monroe County 911 as a potential creditor regarding cloud-based technology companies.
No county officials are aware of details, but Houston said he would check with former county administrator Mike King and former 911 director Bunky Goza to see if either one of them knows any details.
“Nobody knows what kind of debt they could owe Monroe County 911. I don’t know how to file a proof of claim if we don’t even know if they owe us debt. They just say they do and don’t have any amounts on it,” he said.