Supervisors apologize to Graning, discuss next steps in oilfield waste landfill proposal

Published 5:13 pm Monday, April 1, 2024

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NATCHEZ — Members of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, some visibly shaken, apologized to Adams County resident Millicent Graning for the trauma she said she experienced when she was arrested on Friday.

Graning turned herself in at the Adams County Sheriff’s Office on Friday after she learned there was a warrant for her arrest accusing her of willful trespassing filed by District 2 Supervisor Kevin Wilson, who is also the president of the board of supervisors.

Wilson filed the affidavit against Graning accusing her of trespassing on his property on Feb. 15.  That arrest warrant, signed by Amite County Justice Court Judge Roger Arnold, was returned to the sheriff’s department on March 13. The sheriff’s office contacted Graning on Thursday, and she turned herself in for the arrest to be processed on Friday morning.

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Wilson, who is the largest independent oil producer in Mississippi according to the state’s oil and gas board, owns the 400 acres at 19 Shieldsboro Lane on which an oilfield waste landfill is proposed to be built. He also is an owner of Complete Oilfield Disposal, the company proposing the landfill.

Graning has been an outspoken opponent of that landfill.

Wilson recused himself  on Monday from the discussion before Graning began speaking.

“I went to the sheriff’s office on Friday morning with the understanding that the sheriff would meet me because I was afraid. I’ve never been to a jail,” Graning said. “I do not break the law. My father is a retired deputy. I have no criminal record. I don’t even have speeding tickets.”

She described the trauma of having to dress in an inmate’s jumpsuit and have her mugshot taken. Further, the judge who signed the order required her to post a $500 cash bond.

“So, this is getting a little ridiculous. And I am worried about the direction that your president (Wilson) is leading this board. This is a dark road that you are headed down,” Graning said. “And I don’t think it is by your hand that this is happening. But I don’t think this is the leadership that you want because if a citizen cannot speak out against something that’s not being done correctly, no one’s going to want to come to the public meetings now.”

Graning said she has to hire a criminal defense attorney and has to go to court on Tuesday morning.

“There is no proof on the report filed against me with the police that I have done this. That is why none of the judges here wanted anything to do with it without having a hearing because there is no proof, just an allegation,” she said.

Graning said now if you Google her name, the first thing that shows up is her mugshot.

“And let me tell you, I don’t look good. I am a 60-year-old mother of two and a grandmother of a 4-year-old who is visibly shaken, and if that’s what Kevin was trying to do, upset me, then congratulations, Kevin. You did it. But if you wanted to get any respect from anyone in this county, you failed,” she said.

District 4 Supervisor Ricky Gray, who had to compose himself before he spoke, was the first to apologize to Graning for how she has been treated.

“I just want to apologize to you, Mrs. Graning, and to the Graning family. I just don’t know what to say. Imagine if it was your mother or grandmother or daughter. We’ve got to stop this,” Gray said.

District 5 Supervisor Warren Gaines apologized and said constituents should never be afraid to come to a public meeting and speak out at a public meeting.

“That’s the only way we have checks and balances,” he said.

A visibly emotional District 3 Supervisor Angela Hutchins apologized to Graning for her arrest.

“If this had happened to my sister or my grandmother or children, I would be devastated,” Hutchins said.

District 1 Supervisor Wes Middleton assured Graning the proper steps would be taken in handling the application and request for an oilfield waste landfill.

“I’m sorry for what happened to you. It is your right to come to that podium. It is everybody’s right to come to that podium and to speak on what you believe,” Middleton said.

Graning asked if an application to amend the county’s solid waste plan had been filed with the county. Amending the plan is the first step in the application process.

County Attorney Scott Slover, who was attending the meeting via telephone, said the application had been filed and that it is public record.

“That was Step 1A in the process. The second part is Step 1B. It provides that this board has to review their current plan and its application for amendments, and make a couple of findings,” Slover said. If the board approves Step 1B, then it goes to Step 2, meaning we draft a new solid waste plan or the amendment, and Step 3 is where we seek public comment in a public hearing.”

Slover suggested to the board that it seek the help of its engineering firm to provide technical guidance during the process of reviewing the solid waste plan and any amendment, and in following the DEQ’s guidance for doing so.

Graning said in the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s guidelines for supervisors is demonstrating and determining the need for such a landfill.

“In that part seek to determine whether the operation of the proposed facility would negatively impact the waste reduction effort of the local government. I don’t think accepting waste from five states will qualify (as not negatively effecting those efforts),” she said.

At the end of the meeting during the portion reserved for supervisors’ reports, Wilson said he did not know what was said by Graning during the time he had recused himself from the discussion, but said he had not threatened anyone.

“There was an article in the paper that said I threatened Mrs. Graning at some point. I never spoke with Mrs. Graning and didn’t threaten anyone,” Wilson said. “She came to the board room with pictures of her being on my property and invited other people to come on my property trespassing and so therefore I said I wanted her arrested for trespassing. She gave proof. She admitted it in this boardroom and also asked other people to come on my property. She was never invited on my property, so therefore, she was arrested for it.

“I am sure she is a great person. I don’t have anything against her,” Wilson said. “The other thing I am going to say about this whole incident is, not one person in this room even knows what that facility is for, has no clue what will be built or how much regulation is involved.”

At this point, Gray asked Slover for an opinion on Wilson talking about the landfill issue during the meeting. Slover advised that Wilson should not be discussing the issue.

“I’m not discussing the issue. I’m just telling my side. The bottom line is, I’m trying to bring a project to this county to bring more money. It seems like everybody is against it from the get go, and that they don’t even know what it is about,” Wilson said.