Board attorney dismissed

Published 12:19 am Tuesday, January 8, 2008

NATCHEZ — During election season, several candidates promised change in their campaign, and at Monday’s Adams County Board of Supervisors meeting “change” was the operative word.

The board dismissed attorney Bob Latham, appointed Supervisor Henry Watts president in the place of long-time president Darryl Grennell and named Supervisor S.E. “Spanky” Felter vice-president.

Both the votes to dismiss Latham and to appoint Watts were 3-2, with Grennell and Supervisor Thomas “Boo” Campbell dissenting on both votes.

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Felter was named vice-president unanimously.

The board also voted to name Natchez lawyer Bobby Cox interim board attorney until resumes and interviews could be conducted for a more permanent hiring.

The decision to dismiss Latham was not made because he had done a bad job, Felter said.

“We just wanted an attorney that would work with all the board members,” he said.

When Grennell asked what rate of pay the new attorney would receive, Watts said it was a matter for a future executive session.

After Latham was dismissed, Campbell requested he be retained to continue working on the Rentech project.

“Bob probably knows as much about that project as anyone here,” Campbell said. “We need to maintain someone to work on that project, if not others.”

Latham’s long-term work with the Rentech project demands some consideration, Grennell said.

“This project is bigger than any of us at this table,” Grennell said. “Bob has expertise. He has been working on that project for several years.”

Watts disagreed that Latham was needed to finish work with Rentech.

“Most base contracts have been signed and options have been placed on the table,” Watts said. “What else can the board of supervisors do but wait? The due diligence has been met.”

He could see no immediate problem with passing the necessary documents from one attorney to another, Watts said.

“If this deal is going to close in April, I thought we should maintain the agent who has worked on it,” Campbell said.

Felter said he would support decision to keep Latham on board for the Rentech project only if Rentech said they wanted it.

“Until Rentech tells me that, I’m against it,” he said.

Supervisor Mike Lazarus — the new member of the board — agreed and said, “If they feel they need Bob, they’ll get Bob.”

The board voted 3-2 to meet with Rentech and the Economic Development Authority to determine if the move would be necessary.

“It’s a little strange,” Watts said. “Bob represents us, so they’d be telling us what we need.”

In other news:

4The board voted to allow the Adams County Democratic Executive Committee to use local voting precincts for the Democratic precinct caucuses Feb. 2.

4Grennell made a recommendation to the board that they appoint a five-person committee to conduct interviews to appoint a new civil defense director for Adams County.

“We don’t have the expertise to ask the questions germane to this position in the interviews,” Grennell said.

The committee Grennell recommended would include two representatives from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, retiring Civil Defense Director George Souderes, Sheriff Ronny Brown and Natchez Fire Chief Paul Johnson.