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September 22, 2013 12:11:21 AM
A Lowndes County resident has filed a complaint with the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor alleging a Noxubee County employee spread slag on a private road.
Al Finch, who lives on Allison Hardy Road in Lowndes County, addresses his complaint to the Noxubee County Board of Supervisors. The complaint names supervisor Larry Tate and Bobby Tate, a truck driver for Noxubee county.
"Bobby Tate, truck driver for Noxubee County, brought five loads of gray slag and spread it on Roger Stevenson's private road which is located off Allison Hardy Road in Lowndes County," Finch's complaint states. "Roger Stevenson called and said he gave Tate permission to do this."
Slag is a stone-like by-product of smelting ore, the process of producing metal. It can react with water when mixed with concrete to produce a cementitious surface.
Finch told The Dispatch he observed the county dump truck on Stevenson's property last week hauling the slag with employees spraying it on the gravel road. He said he then approached Bobby Tate and asked him what he was doing before Tate told him he was following his supervisor's order. Finch also noted the driver had a gate key for the road and that the slag was sprayed on two private drives. Each Noxubee County district has its own vehicles and equipment.
Finch said when he found out the supervisor who allegedly gave that order was Larry Tate, he called Tate to question it. Tate allegedly told Finch he was unaware of any work taking place. Finch said he also talked to another Noxubee County supervisor, Bruce Brooks, who gave the same response.
"I said, 'It's one of y'all's trucks. Somebody gave (Bobby Tate) the authority. Where did he get the slag? Was it charged to Noxubee County?'"
When contacted by The Dispatch Friday, state auditor investigative division staff supervisor Sarah Smith, who Finch said fielded his complaint, said the office could not comment about any possible or ongoing investigations or the possible consequences if a similar investigation were to find illegal activity.
Calls to Larry Tate were not returned. An attempt to reach Roger Stevenson was unsuccessful because a listed phone number was disconnected. Finch said Larry and Bobby Tate are related, but The Dispatch could not confirm that.
Allison Hardy Road is in Lowndes County District 5 supervisor Leroy Brooks' territory. Brooks said he went there to look and saw slag on the private drive and spoke briefly to Finch.
"There is slag on a road that I perceive to be private property. That could have been hauled by a private contractor or anybody," Brooks said. "I have no idea of where it came from. I just know Lowndes County forces didn't go up there."
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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