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Cemetery access project to move forward with grant funds

Vera Johnson Collins of the Tommy Johnson Blues Foundation met with Supervisors May 5 to inform them that funding has been received for purchase of access to the Warm Springs Cemetery and erecting appropriate gates and fences in the County Line Community north of Crystal Springs.

Warm Springs is the burial place of blues great Tommy Johnson and is presently inaccessible. Collins envisions completion of the access and some restoration of the cemetery as a tourist attraction for the area.

Supervisors are trying to assist the foundation in securing necessary property for the access and plan to see that the access road is built. The project has hit a number of snags and has been in the works for about seven years.

Tommy Johnson’s memorial marker currently rests in the J.T. Biggs, Jr. Memorial Library in Crystal Springs until access to Warm Springs is worked out.

Other Matters

Chancery Judge Ed Patten presented a restored photograph of the Copiah County Courthouse after a snowfall in 1914 to supervisors.

Advertisement of congratulations for Copiah County high school graduates was authorized in the county newspapers.

Authorization was given for installation of conduit necessary for enhanced security in the circuit courtroom now under restoration.

The county’s application for 2008 Emergency Assistance was approved.

Formal transfer of a fire truck given to the county by the City of Hazlehurst was accepted, the truck placed in inventory, declared surplus and its salvage authorized.

Emergency Managemenr Agency officials Randle Drane and Ricky Stevens were authorized expenses for their annual conference.

The resignation of Cindy Errington as a part time dispatcher in the 911 office was accepted.

Terry Lane off Browns Wells Road was added to the county road registry. Supervisors also authorized correction of Harris Lane which had been incorrectly listed in the register as Harrison Lane.

Nathan Berry’s resignation as a county jailer was accepted.

Gary Funchess discussed problems with use of homestead exemption denial as a consequence  of tax problems on the state and federal level. Funchess complained that under the present system the state uses information from the IRS without following up with their own investigation. Supervisors are required to deny the homestead exemption applications of thoses who have unresolved tax issues with the State Tax Commission.

A representative of AT&T received authorization to change the county’s plan for cellular phones to better fit current usage.

Cleanup of illegal dumps on Guynes Lane and Shady Grove Road was authorized.

A proposal to offer an enhanced cafeteria plan of benefits to county employees was taken under advisement.

Grass cutting in the industrial park was awarded to last year’s providers with any areas not being cut to be negotiated with others by the road manager.

Cultural Affairs Director Janet Schriver reported that acquisition of property for relocation of the Robert Johnson birthplace home is still under discussion and awaiting word from the Hazlehurst School Board. An endowment source has notified Schriver that the proposed site on Hazlehurst School-owned property preferred by the Robert Johnson family would not be acceptable for the endowment. Plans for development of the home as a tourist attraction were discussed.

Schriver was given authorization to have a plaque made from timber from the Robert Johnson birthplace home for presentation at the International Blues Festival in Tunica.

Schriver received permission to apply for a grant to assist marginal students get on the right path to complete their education. She will also be seeking a Title 5 community data collection project to monitor progress in working with young poeple. Twenty-nine percent of Copiah children are said to be living in poverty, there is low parent presence in many families, too much teenage pregnancy, etc. which is the reason for the concern.

Under Copiah’s recently adopted policy dealing with tax exemptions for industry, supervisors approved a tax exemption for MMI of Mississippi. The total value of their installation was reported to be $2,998,000 and 40 employees with an annual payroll of $1,919,973. They received a five year tax exemption with possibility of a five year extension if conditions of the exemption continue to be met. The road, bridge, fire and school taxes will continue to be be paid by the company.

Two erroneous tax sales were nullified and corrected.

Engineer Johnson reported that the county would receive salvaged material from removal of the St. Paul Road bridge for future use in bridge construction.A notice to proceed was received on the archaeological survey of the Dentville-Jack Road project. This requires a shovel test every 100 feet on both sides of the 15.5 mile right of way.

Supervisors made an offer under a proposed interlocal agreement to purchase used bridge slabs from Madison and Lamar counties.

A letter was received from the Department of Environmental Quality concerning required placement of sheetrock in dumpsters at the two county dump sites in the future. Wood chips of limbs only can be placed in the dumps–no ground up lumber, etc. Survey of both dumps required by DEQ will be completed this week.

Approval of expenses for an assessor department employee to participate in required training was made.

Georgia Rhymes was appointed to the Copiah County Jury Commission.

A progress payment on the courthouse restoration of $161,016 was made to the contractor.

Training certificates for three election commissioners were placed on the minutes.

A letter of appreciation was received from the Copiah Water Association for allowing them to manage the industrial park water and wastewater utilities.

A memo of agreement with Advance Auto Parts in preparation for a Community Development Block Grant application was adopted.

The county attorney reported that Copiah County has been dismissed from a court case filed concerning an incident at a recent Crystal Springs-Hazlehurst football game. The attorney also reported on county exposure to pay a portion of employees’ salaries who have not received their pay while working under a 21st Century Grant project at the Heritage House. The county acknowledges its responsibility and seeks to pay its share and be released from the lawsuit.

A letter was received from the U. S. Justice Department approving transfer of voters from an area recently annexed by the City of Wesson to the city precincts.

Supervisors were reminded of the retirement reception for Dr. Howard Garner, Copiah-Lincoln Community College President on May 18 from 2 until 4 p.m.

Jeff Varas’ role as a hearing officer on county garbage matters was defined to reduce stress on his office staff.

An executive session for personnel resulted in employment of Clayton Hayes and Charles Adair at the north county barn.

Officials recessed until Friday, May 9 at 9 a.m.

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