County rehires admin who worked one month

Published 12:14 am Tuesday, May 3, 2011

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to rehire Joe Murray as county administrator in an executive session at Monday’s meeting.

Adams County Board of Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said he personally asked Murray to reconsider the position.

The county has been without an administrator since Sept. 15, when Murray resigned from the position after serving approximately one month. The position was unfilled for five months before Murray was hired, with former administrator Charlie Brown filling in temporarily.

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Adams County Chancery Clerk Tommy O’Beirne has been serving as interim administrator.

Murray said the reason he left the administrator job after only a month was due to a workload that did not match the pay.

He said he was overwhelmed with the extensive intricacies of the job and preparing a budget in such a short time on pay that was too low for the level of responsibility.

Murray had an opportunity to return to his former job he loved at the Mississippi State Tax Commission in Brookhaven, where he worked for 19 years — and he took it.

“We got the budget done, and I learned a lot,” Murray said. “But the budget should have been started in July to take all of the requests into consideration. I am not afraid of work, but I liked what I was doing at agency and never wanted to leave my job in the first place.”

Murray said in addition to being offered appropriate compensation, now at $70,000 from $54,000, he decided to return to the administrator job to eliminate 12 hours a week of drive time, time he could not spend with his family.

Murray said his decision is final this time.

“I crossed that bridge one time before, and I can’t go back,” Murray said. “I think things happen for a reason in their own time. I thought about it many hours riding up and down this road — ‘Did I make the right decision?’ But I did what I thought was right at the time.

“I love Natchez, this is my home, and I don’t plan on going anywhere.”

Grennell said O’Beirne has been doing an excellent job as interim administrator, but he and the board are thrilled to get Murray back because they are pleased with the budget he prepared in 2010.

“We need his leadership to move forward and proceed in the next fiscal year,” Grennell said. “We are preparing a budget for the new fiscal year, and requests will soon be made for departments all over Adams County. He has experience, he prepared the budget we are using and we’ve had no problems with it.”

“I’m ready to get in there,” Murray said. “I’m a lot more excited than last time.”

The board also met in executive session to make commission appointments to Southwest Mississippi Regional Railroad Authority.

“We hope Franklin and Lincoln Counties will follow suit to make appointments to their commissions,” Grennell said, after the executive session.

Dan Bland was appointed on a one-year term; Robert Johnson Sr. was appointed for a two-year term; Ken Herring on a three-year term; Rodney Colter on a four-year term and Georgia Oliver on a five-year term.

Grennell said the appointments are designed in the state statute to be staggered so there is always experience on the tri-county, 15-person commission.

In other business:

• Leon Atkins, a local vegetation management business owner, has sprayed the sides of several roads in the county to kill nuisance weeds and brush. The spraying is part of a county roadside program, which Atkins wants to expand to every road in Adams County. He said the process would reduce the frequency of mowing, saving the county money. It will also make the roadways safer.

“It’s an advantage to drivers because people can see into a pasture or the woods where animals might run out into the road,” Atkins said.

Atkins had already been awarded a six-month bid for roads that were included in the spraying.

“The program, if implemented properly, can be beneficial,” Grennell said. “It will reduce manpower and allow Bermuda grass to be the prevalent grass on side of roads, which does not require a lot of cutting. There are roads in the county that have been part of program for several years, and it has proven to be effective.”

Grennell told Atkins to ride with the road manager, come up with a price and the board would consider a decision in the future.

• The board granted tax exemption to Denbury Onshore, a local oil company. Denbury qualifies for tax exemptions on several pieces of leased equipment, including oil pipelines and compressors that sequester secondary oil.

“We grant these (tax exemptions) to industry all the time to encourage them to stay and expand,” board attorney Bobby Cox said. “Tax exemption improves the stability of companies in the county.”

Cox said the state of Mississippi wants to encourage that type of industry to stay because the state collects severance tax from the oil.

• Cox said Mississippi and Louisiana are part of a mutual aid compact to provide help to each other in case of river flooding.

Grennell said he called Concordia Parish Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington to offer assistance if they need it.

“Mr. Ferrington said they may be bringing equipment over here for us to house,” Grennell said. “I told them we would do whatever we can do to help.”

Ferrington said he is meeting with Corps of Engineers today to get an official update on the situation.

“It’s not looking good, but we will know more after the meeting,” Ferrington said.

He said the parish’s bush hogs, track hoes, dozers and more stored at the maintenance barn on Louisiana 84 in Ferriday will be brought to Adams County in case of flooding.

“Mr. Grennell is very gracious in offering this, and we would do the same for them,” Ferrington said. “We want to be prepared just in case.”

Grennell also stated a concern for wildlife that might seek higher ground in case of flooding.

“It’s important to be more observant of our surroundings when the river is rising,” Grennell said.

• Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens said all 12 emergency sirens are up and running in the county.

The newest siren on Beau Pré Road will be tested Wednesday. All sirens will be tested at 11 a.m. the first Wednesday of every month, weather permitting.

• Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce President Debbie Hudson announced the legislative breakfast is scheduled at 7:30 a.m., May 9 at the Natchez Eola Hotel.

• The ongoing concrete project on Kingston Road is near completion ahead of the projected timeframe, saving the county $98,000, supervisor Henry Watts said. A motion to reject sealed bids still enclosed in the contract was passed.

The supervisors thanked County Road Manager “Curly” Jones and his crew for their efficient work and the public for being patient with the progress.