Resident questions county land deal

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 5, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; A nearly month-old county deal to purchase 6.84 acres of land on the port for $660,000 was discussed in open session for the first time Tuesday morning when a public comment criticized the decision.

&uot;That’s not a good deal,&uot; Charles Sanders told the board from his seat in the audience. &uot;Why does the Board of Supervisors need this land?&uot;

Supervisor Sammy Cauthen told Sanders the purchase was for silos and the bulk loading facility used by Louisiana company Almatis AC, formerly Alcoa. Cauthen said that one company was more than 80 percent of the port’s business and a five-year contract with Almatis would now ensure that business for the port.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;I don’t find justification in spending that much money for something we don’t need,&uot; Sanders said. &uot;I hope you all take another look at this. It’s time for us to get serious about what we are doing. Adams County and Natchez are the worst I’ve ever seen them.&uot;

Supervisor S.E. &uot;Spanky&uot; Felter told Sanders the land purchase would pay off within five years with the money it will bring into the county.

Felter has previously referred to numbers gathered during research saying the county will now collect $8.50 per ton loaded at the site as opposed to the $2.65 previously collected when the site was owned by an outside source.

The decision to purchase the land was made at a Dec. 10 executive session meeting. The vote was 3-2 in favor of the purchase, with Supervisors Darryl Grennell and Henry Watts voting no.

The information was not made public until last week when the board approved the minutes from the executive session meeting.

The sale has not been finalized. The land is owned by Butch Brown’s Riverside Central Services.

In other business the board re-elected Grennell to serve as president of the board and elected Felter to serve as vice-president. Cauthen was previously the vice-president.

Both Felter and Cauthen were nominated and Felter won with three votes from Watts, Grennell and himself.

The board also passed a motion to retain attorney Bob Latham as county attorney. Watts made a motion to hire Latham only as interim attorney until further discussion. Watts’ motion failed with a 3-2 vote.

Clarence Jones, who has been serving as road manager since the illness and death of Bobby Powell, was approved as road manager.

Also discussed:

4Cauthen made a motion to implement a dress code at board meetings requiring coat and tie or sports shirt. The motion failed 3-2 after some tense discussion.

4Watts made a motion to divide the $30,000 travel budget by five, giving each supervisor a set limit of $6,000. Grennell questioned whether such a change would be in compliance with the budgetary laws, and Watts changed the motion pending legal approval.

Cauthen expressed concern that limiting travel would hinder his work as a supervisor.

&uot;I know you are pointing fingers at me,&uot; Cauthen said. &uot;I don’t care. Some of you ran on a platform of paying all your travel and you haven’t done that.&uot;

Cauthen said he traveled to promote industry in Adams County.

&uot;When times get tough you don’t pull salesman off the street,&uot; he said.

Watts said he was attempting to make travel spending fair for all supervisors and Felter agreed.

&uot;We are going to run out of money,&uot; Felter said.

The motion to change the travel budget failed 3-2.

4The board accepted the bid of Natchez Snack Foods for the county’s vending machines. The county will receive $100 per machine per year from the company. The county has about eight machines.

4Grennell read a resolution honoring the life and service of former Road Manager Bobby Powell, who died last year after suffering a stroke.

4Grennell encouraged the supervisors and the citizens of the county to make donations to the victims of the Southeast Asia tsunami. Donations can be given to the local Red Cross.