Supervisors approve contract for new engineering firm

Published 6:50 pm Wednesday, January 20, 2021

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NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a four-year contract for IMS Engineers’ services.

The contract with IMS Engineers, which was approved Tuesday, enlists company employees with pay starting at $48 per hour to $223 per hour for the top tier position.

The board made the decision on Jan. 4 to hire the national firm in place of Jordan Kaiser & Sessions by a vote of 3-2 — with supervisors Kevin Wilson and Wes Middleton voting “nay.”

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The topic of switching engineering firms was discussed in executive session during the Jan. 4 meeting, which is closed to the public.

The contract for IMS’s services was approved Tuesday by a vote of 4-1 with Supervisor Kevin Wilson voting “nay.”

Wilson said he was uncomfortable with the way IMS was chosen during Tuesday’s meeting.

“I don’t know how a member of IMS group got in the room (in executive session) or even knew to be here,” Wilson said. “… We have a local firm that has been here for a long time and they were dismissed very rapidly without a lot of fanfare.”

Supervisor Wes Middleton said he disagreed with hiring an out-of-town firm over JKS and stands by his earlier decision not to hire them.

Middleton said he voted for the contract because he trusted Adams County Attorney Scott Slover’s opinion after supervisors Warren Gaines, Angela Hutchins and Ricky Gray voted to hire IMS.

“I have no issues with the contract,” Middleton said. “I was not in favor of the way it happened. We didn’t advertise for a new engineer. … IMS was the only firm who approached us. My original vote was for JKS to keep jobs local and I still stand by that.”

Slover said he is “very optimistic” about IMS.

“This was not something that the board did lightly,” Slover said of the supervisors hiring IMS. “They discussed it in executive session for quite a while.”

Slover said he does not have reason to believe some of the supervisors discussed hiring IMS Engineers privately before the Jan. 4 meeting or violated the Open Meetings Act.

By state law, discussion of an employee’s performance is allowable in a closed meeting, Slover said, adding the Board of Supervisors discussed details of JKS’s performance privately so as not to publicly shame the company.

Gaines said he did not meet or discuss hiring IMS Engineers outside of meetings with the other supervisors.

“The first time I met IMS was at a conference in Jackson (in January 2020),” Gaines said. “I hated seeing a business from Adams County go. … (JKS) has been hired on a 30-day basis for three years and there were just a lot of projects that were not getting done in a timely manner. … I voted only because I knew we needed to make a different approach.”