Supervisor files affidavit for trespassing arrest against oilfield waste landfill opponent

Published 5:33 pm Sunday, March 31, 2024

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NATCHEZ — A Natchez woman who has been an outspoken opponent of a proposed oilfield waste landfill development in the county south of Natchez was arrested on Thursday for willful trespassing.

The charges were filed by District 2 Supervisor Kevin Wilson, who is also president of the county’s Board of Supervisors and owns the approximately 400 acres of land at 19 Shieldsboro Lane where the proposed landfill would be located if it makes it through the arduous permitting process. Wilson is also an owner of Complete Oilfield Disposal, the company that wants to develop and operate an oilfield waste landfill on the site.

Wilson filed an affidavit on Feb. 15, seeking Millicent Graning’s arrest for willful trespassing on his property after Graning showed up at the Feb. 5 meeting of the Board of Supervisors with photos showing at least preliminary construction work had begun on the landfill, even though no permit for a landfill there had been approved. 

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Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said although Wilson filed the affidavit against Graning on Feb. 15, a signed warrant did not arrive at the sheriff’s office until March 13 after it was approved by a judge in Amite County. He said Graning was contacted on Thursday and asked to come to the sheriff’s office to have the arrest processed and she turned herself in on Friday morning.

“Otherwise, he was going to have me arrested at Monday’s meeting” of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, Graning said when contacted on Saturday.

Graning said she had not trespassed on Wilson’s property.

“I have not been on his property. I have driven down Shieldsboro Lane, which is a public road, but I have never been on his property. I would not do that. I would not break the law,” Graning said.

She said she is upset about the accusation and arrest, and said she is disturbed by the message it sends to others who may oppose something one of the supervisors wants.

“A sitting supervisor had this warrant served against this resident because I have spoken out against this landfill Kevin Wilson wants,” Graning said.

She said she is concerned others will not feel free to voice their concerns to the supervisors for fear of being arrested.

Supervisors meet Monday at 9 a.m. at the board’s headquarters at 314 State St. Graning is on the agenda for that meeting to discuss the process for amending the county’s solid waste plan, which is required for the landfill permitting process to move forward.

The issue first arose in October 2023, when Aimee Blount of Complete Oilfield Disposal attended the supervisors’ meeting on Oct. 16, seeking a letter from supervisors stating currently no ordinances or zoning regulations exist in the county that would prohibit the development of such a landfill. Wilson, who did not recuse himself during the discussions, told fellow supervisors that he owns the 400 acres of land on which the proposed landfill would operate. “We have already cleared the property,” he said at the time. “We have been working on it for six to eight months. This is just something Aimee has to do to get the DEQ permit. There are lots of hoops to jump through.”

Graning was among half a dozen county residents who appeared at the Nov. 6, 2023, Board of Supervisors meeting questioning the landfill proposal. At that meeting County Attorney Scott Slover did instruct Wilson to recuse himself from the conversations, and Graning raised multiple questions about the process of permitting and plans for the landfill, specifically whether it would be receiving waste from up to five states; what the use of a centrifuge would mean for disposal of solid and liquid waste; and details on the use of barrels or canisters.

On Jan. 18, Graning again appeared before the supervisors, asking if they knew that construction had started at the site despite receiving approval from the county or the state.

Graning questioned whether Wilson was “pressuring” fellow supervisors to approve the landfill. “I feel like even though there is a process that has to be followed, that Kevin has decided he doesn’t have to follow the law and he can go ahead and build this, that you all are going to vote for it because he’s pressuring you to do so,” she said. “As the president of the board of supervisors, I don’t think that’s a good position. The optics are horrible. It’s obviously unethical and possibly illegal. It puts the board of supervisors in a very tight position.”

Contacted after the meeting, Wilson said the work happening on the property he owns is preliminary and said there is no major construction happening.

Graning produced photos of the construction at the Feb. 5 Board of Supervisors meeting which she said showed development of a concrete holding tank some 120 feet long and photos of a series of other tanks, as much as 50 feet long.

After the meeting, Wilson said he had not authorized the pouring of concrete or other construction at the site and had told the person who would operate the facility and would eventually have a working interest in it to delay any kind of work other than land clearing until April or May. “I found out about it (construction work) three or four weeks late. I had not been out there. I still haven’t been out there,” Wilson said. “He was so determined to get this thing going, that he started building it without authorization. I have put the brakes on this. I could turn it into as a hog farm with what they have done so far if I want to. I am not going to spend $2 million on this. I know we have to change our solid waste plan (in order to operate an oilfield waste landfill),” Wilson said.

Throughout the process, county officials also have sought clarity on the correct process for reviewing and approving the landfill request. For a while, Slover and the supervisors went back and forth about the steps necessary for the landfill to be approved. Originally, Slover said the permit had to be filed with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, and that it had not been filed yet.

However, the first step in the process is applying with the county’s Chancery Clerk’s office to amend the county’s solid waste plan. Once that request is received by the county’s Chancery Clerk’s office, the supervisors must set a public hearing to gather input from the public on the plan.

Blount, who is in charge of business development for Complete Oilfield Disposal said on March 18 that the application would be filed with the Chancery Clerk’s office by Friday, March 22.