Elevance work to begin in Nov; Supervisor points finger at The Democrat

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Editor’s note: The original version of this story incorrectly identified garbage collection department head Sue Clark. Clark was misnamed at the meeting by the supervisors. The Democrat is happy to set the record straight.

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors had a light agenda Monday for the final board meeting before today’s primary elections.

While no big issues stood out, supervisors talked about some new ideas, old business and commented on articles published recently in The Democrat.

Email newsletter signup

• Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ gave a brief update on the progress of Elevance Renewable Sciences new Natchez plant.

Russ said the company, which plans to invest $225 million in Adams County, expects to begin construction on its plant in the middle of the fourth quarter of 2011, which will be in November.

“They’re still doing technical engineering (at the site),” Russ said.

The company, which will create chemicals that serve as ingredients in everyday products, is expected to create 300 construction jobs and 165 permanent jobs.

Russ asked the board to pass a resolution, which they did unanimously, to advertise for public notice about a $2 million grant from the Mississippi Development Authority to fund Elevance-related improvements to the port.

District 5 Supervisor S.E. “Spanky” Felter asked Russ how those interested in a job with Elevance should apply. Russ said applicants seeking a technical job should contact the WIN Job Center, Natchez Inc. or apply online at www.elevance.com

“There is probably six months of lead time before jobs are posted and available,” Russ said.

• The board voted to look into asking Mississippi River Pulp to place a recycling bin at the county maintenance shop to allow citizens to easily recycle paper.

“I’m not trying to put more duties on the maintenance staff, but it’s a good idea to have (the bin) in a place where there’s people,” said District 1 Supervisor Mike Lazarus, who suggested the idea.

• Felter said after he pays the county approximately $120 he owes, he will have paid his entire phone bill from the past year.

Felter said the county’s bill dropped approximately $200 compared to last year but used an average of 14 less phones this year. The savings should have been greater, Felter said.

Felter said he was glad The Democrat brought the cost of cell phone bills to the board’s attention, but he wished the county could find mistakes themselves.

Felter suggested the county hire another person to work part time in garbage collection whom could also help County Administrator Joe Murray review items such as phone bills.

“(A new assistant could) help (Murray) to micromanage some of these departments,” Felter said. “There’s no telling how many times Adams County is duplicating bills.”

Murray said he plans to monitor bills, such as cell phone bills, more closely once he finishes with the budgeting process.

Murray also said hiring a part-time employee at garbage collection would probably cost nearly the same amount of money the county pays people to fill in for department head Sue Clark when she is on vacation.

• District 2 Supervisor Henry Watts responded Monday to an article in Sunday’s newspaper about how he broke county procedure when ordering improvements to the Kingston Community Center.

Sunday’s article in The Democrat reported Watts failed to follow purchasing policies, get a vote from the board and go through the proper department, which resulted in windows being paid for twice.

Watts said the Kingston facility, which is the only countywide community center, was in the deplorable condition when he took office eight years ago, and repairs can be credited to his pushing and persistence on the issue.

“There’s been a lot of hoopla about (the repairs being funded through maintenance), but the maintenance department has got an $850,000 budget,” Watts said. “They’re the (department) that’s supposed to maintain county-owned buildings.”

Watts said supervisors are not always required to get a vote from the board when they request maintenance repairs.

“I’m proud of what’s been done out there (at the Kingston center),” Watts said.

Watts said The Natchez Democrat’s editorial staff has endorsed his opponent David Carter by giving him press in Natchez the Magazine and in Monday’s edition of the newspaper.

“They put (Carter) on the new Natchez magazine,” Watts said. “You’re going to see more of that between now and November.”

A photograph of Carter and his son that published on the spring cover of Natchez the Magazine was taken in the fall of 2010. The photograph was initially published in a preview edition of the first issue, which was distributed as an insert in the newspaper Nov. 1, 2010, months before Carter publicly announced intentions to run for office.

“For Mr. Watts to think we somehow conspired months ago to put Mr. Carter and his young child on the cover of the magazine to promote him politically is just a ludicrous idea,” Democrat publisher Kevin Cooper said. “We distributed 10 thousand copies of the magazine’s preview section in November. We were not hiding anything in November, and we’re not hiding anything now.

“The final magazine article was planned months before anyone qualified to run for office, and it was certainly not meant to be an endorsement of Carter, but simply illustrated a fun feature story on local men who wear hats. Five other men were included in the story. I think this is clearly an example of a politician who is trying to raise a fuss about something in an effort to take the public’s attention off their own actions.”

A story in Monday’s edition of the newspaper titled “Miss-Lou ag industry sees success, little growth,” contained an interview with Carter, the director of the Adams County extension service, also known as the county agent. An agricultural-related story appears in every Monday edition of The Democrat, and often quotes the county agents for both Adams County and Concordia Parish.

In an effort to avoid any appearance of bias, The Democrat halted publication of a well-read column written by Carter that focused on agricultural issues. The column’s publication was ceased shortly after Carter announced his candidacy.

Watts said Monday The Democrat editorial staff does not like him or his family.

“We have always tried our best to be fair in our coverage,” Cooper said. “Unfortunately Supervisor Watts has said and done some things that made him look bad, and we’ve had to report it.”

• Murray asked the board permission to pay back the Federal Emergency Management Agency approximately $18,000 that FEMA gave to Adams County twice after Hurricane Katrina.

“(Duplicated payments related to Katrina) actually happened all over the state,” Grennell said. “Many counties received double payments,” he said.

• Grennell announced Clarence “Curley” Jones will retire in October as Adams County road manager.

The board adopted a resolution of appreciation for the service of Jones, whom has been an employee of the county for 46 years.