Sups hire VSO; discuss litigation

By Daniel Brunty
The Choctaw Plaindealer

The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors made a decision on the Veterans Service Officer position, as well as discussing the upcoming litigation regarding Quantum.

The meeting began with the approval of the agenda, followed with the board members discussing the candidates for the Veterans Service Officer position. The board interviewed three applicants for the position during their Feb. 9 board meeting in the presence of members of the American Legion who were there to provide input.

Board President Chris McIntire asked the board members did they have conversations with the American Legion members about whom they would recommend for the position. After a brief discussion, the board as a whole chose Mark Bunn to fill the position.

Before making the decision final, McIntire asked to be recused from the actual vote because of his relation with one of the applicants. District 5 Supervisor Eric Chambers made a motion to hire Bunn as Veterans Service Officer, which was seconded by District 2 Supervisor Larry McClain. The board passed the motion unanimously.

The board also met with Ryan Monk from Puckett Machinery in Jackson. The board met with him in regards to repairs that are needed for the county’s chip spreader. Monk had recently inspected the spreader, and informed the supervisors of all the items that were in need of repair. Monk then presented the board with figures for parts and labor needed for repair.

After the supervisors reviewed the items on the list, they determined that some of the items could be purchased at other locations for lesser prices, as well as removing some of the cosmetic items that could be replaced at a later time.

“It is still a good, operational machine,” McIntire stated. “It just has a lot of little things on it that do not work.” A few of the items, including a wheel motor and belt, were determined to still need inspection. A motion was made to accept the PO on repairs, not to exceed the maximum amount listed, which was $40,782.56, with the exception of the inspection of the wheel motor, belt, and other items.

McIntire stated that this would allow repairs to start on the machine, and for the excepted items, the super visors would be contacted before any decision would be made for those. After a second, the motion was passed unanimously by the board.

The next item on the agenda for the board was to enter into an executive session to discuss pending litigation regarding the Quantum lawsuit with its attorney, Paul Stephenson of Watkins and Eager. The board stayed in executive session for around an hour, with no action taken during the session.

The last item the board discussed was the audit findings from the county’s audit. The board had met with Steve Sinclair during their Feb. 9 to review the county’s audit findings. Sinclair informed the supervisors that they would need to respond to the findings in the audit in a timely fashion.

The board took the time this meeting to address the findings and provide their responses. The finding of the audit in regards to the board of supervisors stated “The County Financials were completed by the Auditing Firm who did the audit.”

While discussing how to respond to the finding, Chambers did not agree with the board’s decision on the response. Chambers asked the board to accept a written response he presented. After more discussion, the board also reviewed the second finding in the audit, “The County Financials did not include component units in the County Audit (such as Economic Development, Hospital, etc).”

Chambers also did not agree with the other supervisor’s response. After more discussion, Chambers made a motion to enter his response as an official response. McIntire asked the other board members for a second for the motion. The motion received no second.

The board members them presented their responses, which were “The County will work toward completing financials before the audits are begun,” and “The County will include component units in the County Audit.” A motion was made to approve these two responses. After a second, the motion was passed 4-1, with Chambers voting against it.

The meeting was then recessed, with Feb. 20 the scheduled date for the board’s next meeting.

Supervisor Meeting, Feb. 20
The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors met with the county’s new Veterans Service Office during their meeting on Feb. 20 at the Choctaw County Courthouse.

The supervisors met with Mark Bunn, the county’s new Veterans Service Officer. The board approved Bunn’s hiring during their Feb. 17 meeting, after an interview process, which took place on Feb. 9. The board wanted to touch base with Bunn to review his arrival to the position.

Items that were discussed by Bunn and the board members included the hours of operation for the Veterans Service Office (Tues. & Thurs. from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.), as well as items that were needed in the office such as a fax machine. Bunn also provided the board with a Code of Ethics that should be used with the position, as well as a descriptive job description.

Bunn also asked the supervisors if he would need a cell phone for his position. Bunn’s reasoning for a cell phone was if there was an emergency, such as a death, he may need to be contacted outside of the scheduled office hours and to keep his personal and work separate.

Board President Chris McIntire agreed on that thought. “You will have instance where people will contact you on off hours,” McIntire said.

The next topic of discussion was the pay of the position. The board informed Bunn that the position would pay $500 per month. “So we might want to talk about increasing the monthly pay so I can cover the cost of the phone,” Bunn stated.

After a brief discussion between the supervisors, District 4 Supervisor David Carter gave the board members a solution to provide Bunn with a cell phone that would be more cost effective for the county. Carter suggested that the board provide a cell phone that would also serve as the office phone for the Veterans Service Office. The cell phone would use the existing office number, and the existing landline in the office would be converted to a fax line.

After agreeing on this solution, the board decided to add $60 to Bunn’s pay, which would pay the monthly bill of the cell phone. District 5 Supervisor Eric Chambers made a motion to set Bunn’s pay at $560. The motion was seconded and approved unanimously by the board.

Chambers then made a motion to recognize the Code of Ethics and Job Description provided by Bunn and to spread a copy on the minutes. District 1 Supervisor Archie Collins seconded the motion, which was passed unanimously by the board.

The next item the board discussed was appointments to the Economic District Board. McIntire informed the board that Economic District Board members Katherine Black and Stewart Edwards have reached the end of their terms and were not seeking reappointment. Two other Economic District Board members, Juli Hughes and Kenya McKinley, were seeking reappointment.

A motion was made to reappoint both Hughes and McKinley to the Economic District Board, which was passed unanimously.

The board then made a motion to enter into executive session to meet with attorney Paul Stephenson regarding the on-going litigation with Quantum Energy. After the session, which lasted over an hour, it was announced that no action was taken.

In other news, the board:
• Approved the deletions, assessments, and adjustments of the Solid Waste Dept. as presented
• Authorized the chancery clerk to advertise for the sale of scrap metal or excess property from District 1, 2, and 4 with the districts providing a list of same for advertisement
• The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors held their next meeting on Feb. 24 at 9 a.m. at the Choctaw County Courthouse.