County supervisors nominate NASD board appointees

Published 12:40 am Tuesday, January 5, 2016

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors Monday appointed officers and nominated appointees for Natchez-Adams School District trustees during the first meeting of its new four-year term.

The one-year officer appointments — for Mike Lazarus to serve as president and Calvin Butler to serve as vice president — had already been unofficially decided before the meeting.

The board likewise unanimously voted to keep all of its sitting department heads in place, including — among others — County Administrator Joe Murray, Board Attorney Scott Slover, Road Manager Robbie Dollar and County Engineer Jim Marlow.

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The board also opened and closed nominations for an appointee to the school district.

Those nominated — with little discussion — included Jerry Ford by District 3 Supervisor Angela Hutchins; Michelle Payne, Phillip West and Joy Mitchell by District 4 Supervisor Rickey Gray; Barney Schoby Jr. by District 2 Supervisor David Carter and Clarena Jones by District 5 Supervisor Calvin Butler.

Notably missing from the nominations — though not surprisingly, as board members have had an at times acrimonious relationship with him in the recent past — was current appointee Tim Blalock, who serves as the NASD board president and has served as a strong defender of sometimes unpopular school district actions.

Blalock has argued that, though some have received those actions unfavorably, they have resulted in improvements at the schools.

Blalock’s term expires Feb. 1.

In other news:

-The board voted to ratify Lazarus’ previous closure of county roads that are affected by high water from the Mississippi River.

They likewise voted to authorize a partial activation of Adams County’s Emergency Operations Center at Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford’s request.

Bradford also asked board members to consider closing the public boat ramps at the Natchez-Adams County Port.

“The water is getting high, and a lot of people want to get down there and see,” he said. “A lot of times they get down in that area and try to start mud racing.”

Lazarus said the county could consider limiting traffic in the port area to only those who have port business.

“The last thing we need is someone down there and they end up in the river,” he said.

Dollar said he would coordinate with Natchez Railway to see where the county might build a temporary levee across railroad tracks into the port. The port is protected by a ring levee, but some areas are lower than others and can be impacted by the high water.

The supervisors also agreed to allow Meg Freeman with the road department to serve as the county’s point person for paperwork with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency for the high water because she served in a similar capacity for the City of Natchez in 2011.

-The supervisors also discussed the roles they can play on the port board, of which they appointed themselves members in 2013.

Hutchins said she had read a legal opinion that said board of supervisor’s members could not do so, but Slover said other legal interpretations allow for it and current case law does not sufficiently clarify the matter.

Lazarus said the move was at the time a protective measure so the supervisors could not be shut out of meetings or information similar to how they were with the operations of the former county hospital.

“I am going to keep my eye on every dollar that goes through the port,” he said. “I will be a part of every decision they make if they will let me be in on them. I have never voted in a port meeting yet, because I have never felt I had to, but if I do feel like I need to, I will.”

The discussion arose because Lazarus had requested financial numbers from the port last month but had not yet received them. Slover said he believed the issue was not one of reluctance to comply with the quest on the port’s part but simply a delay caused by the recent holidays.”