ABERDEEN – In March, members of the board of supervisors voiced support for an educational program informing students of dangers found online. During its April 23 meeting, board members expanded on how it fits with the subject of human trafficking.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputy Cherylann Roberson originally pitched the idea for county leaders to consider. Board president Joseph Richardson said the county talked about implementing the program through school resource officers, in addition to hosting a countywide presentation.
“My idea was for teenagers who may find themselves in a situation of what to look for so their instincts kick in and know something doesn’t feel right,” he said.
Richardson shared a story about a college-age girl who sensed a potentially bad situation while vacationing in Orange Beach, Alabama.
“It didn’t look like a stereotypical predator. They used another college-age girl in this restaurant to start the process. It’s not your typical white van at the playground anymore,” he said.
Sheriff Kevin Crook plans to coordinate with local school superintendents about an event. He already ordered teaching materials for younger students.
“Ninety five, 96 percent of this is coming through the internet. They need to know who they’re chatting with,” Crook said.
His department arrested six individuals in mid-April on several charges, including sexual abuse, sexual battery and statutory rape, as the result of an investigation that began with two possible runaways during spring break.
In other business, county engineer Kyle Strong presented board members with an updated list of eligible bridges for Local System Bridge Program (LSBP) funds, which totals $908,000 for the county to spend. The matter spilled into discussion about road flooding, which is a problem throughout parts of the county.
District 5 Supervisor Hosea Bogan voiced his frustration of flooding throughout the years in his district, saying something has to change.
County road manager Daniel Williams said his department has received $300,000 to $500,000 in the past two years to install rip rap and culverts and stabilize roads and bridges, saying it can’t all be done at once. He added there are several roads in low-lying areas that have been flooded because of the heavier rains the area has witnessed recently.
Board members said they’ve taken notice of improvements since Williams has been road manager.
District 4 Supervisor Fulton Ware said there’s enough of a need in that the county could hypothetically hire a crew to just clean out ditches.
“We don’t get one inch. We get three or four, and the ditches can’t carry it out fast enough,” he said.
In related matters, supervisors approved a letter requesting a time extension for a Natural Resources Conservation Service agreement for Adams, South Hatley, Tumblin and White Rock roads and a separate revised letter requesting federal assistance to restore damages sustained during the Feb. 26-March 1 storms.
District 3 Supervisor Rubel West asked about the board’s stance in pursuing close to $90,000 in liquidated damages against Tanner Construction since it didn’t complete the Coontail bridge project within its deadline. The company was given a month to state its objections to the county’s intentions to pursue liquidated damages, which it didn’t submit. The full sum will be taken off from the company’s next pay request.
Supervisors approved an order for Cook Coggin Engineers to begin work for a Bartahatchie bridge project.
West recognized Aberdeen Mayor Charles Scott, who plans to attend board of supervisors meetings.
“I’m looking forward to us fully engaging the county and state because I think in order for us to be the proper county seat, we need to do our business on the Aberdeen side,” Scott said.
Supervisors expressed they were looking forward to working with him.
West made mention of a recent board tour of Monroe Regional Hospital, noting its revenue increased from $25 million to $60 million.
“The hospital is headed in the right direction,” he said. “They’re looking at improving it even more. They took the old wellness center and turned it into an orthopedic rehab with state of the art equipment. It’s one of the best in the country. They talk about their psychiatric care for nursing home patients, and my wife said it’s top of the line.”
Supervisors approved Monroe County veteran services officer James Scott’s letter of resignation effective April 30. He has served the Aberdeen office.
“There’s some stuff coming down, and they’re going to regionalize some of this VA stuff. Here in Monroe County, a rep may work in another county. I don’t know how it’s going to work yet,” West said.
Dee Prisock will continue to work in the Aberdeen office, but it was suggested to wait until there’s more clarity on changes in guidelines before the county considers hiring a new veteran services officer.
Each board member donated $1,000 from his rural recreation fund to provide for two suits for divers on the Monroe County Volunteer Search and Rescue team. West also donated $500 from his rural recreation fund to the Quincy Community Center.
The board approved a request from John A. Gregory to establish the John Wesley Gregory Family Cemetery.
Supervisors approved a resolution retaining Mitchell, McNutt & Sams to conduct factual investigations to research statutes and opinions of the Mississippi Attorney General to assist in disposition of objections and complaints related to unpaid solid waste fees.
The board approved for a reverse auction for a residential truck and a commercial truck for the county’s solid waste department. Doug Wiggins of Three Rivers Planning and Development District said the lead time for commercial trucks is longer, and the trucks are intended for the next budget year. He expects the trucks to be ready between spring and fall 2022.