An Oktibbeha County supervisors” attempt to recognize a local visionary was blocked Monday.
District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer pleaded with his fellow supervisors during the second April meeting of the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors to include an 18-by-20-inch plaque commemorating Dorothy Bishop at the new county education building”s Unity Park sitting area.
“If it had not been for Dorothy Bishop, the park never would have materialized,” said Trainer, stating Bishop had pitched the idea of converting a small unused area behind the building to a grassy sitting area complete with steel plaques commemorating past visionary leaders.
The majority of the plaques feature national historic figures with their quotes. Men such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy will appear. The board voted Monday to replace a planned plaque honoring reggae legend Bob Marley with one featuring former Mississippi Gov. William Winter.
But a plaque listing the accomplishments of black citizens of Oktibbeha County will intentionally exclude names to avoid a controversy over who should and should not be included.
“If the board starts to put (local) names on plaques, we”re opening a whole can of worms,” said District 3 Supervisor and Board President Marvell Howard.
Instead, the plaque will list dates and descriptions, such as the first black resident to hold elected office and the first black head coach of a Southeastern Conference university football team.
After a motion and a second to proceed with several minor changes to Unity Park without a separate plaque for Bishop, Trainer cried for discussion.
“Can”t y”all be a little sympathetic?” he asked the board. “I”m begging you, please. I think she”s done a lot.”
Undeterred, the board passed the motion 4-1. However, they agreed Bishop had been helpful and Howard offered that Bishop should be allowed to cut the ribbon when Unity Park opens.
Trainer would again be the odd supervisor out toward the end of the meeting when the board approved Oktibbeha County Election Commission Chair Myles Carpenter”s suggestion to proceed with county elections without printing a paper copy of each ballot cast.
Carpenter stated the housing for the printer, which allows voters to view their ballot after casting their votes, will be removed from the voting machines. The move, he said, will prevent paper jams in addition to saving money on paper.
“The printer housing cover is a headache for transporters and poll workers,” he said. “And very few people take the time to look at the printed version.”
Several other Mississippi counties, including Clay, have already voted to cease using the printers for anything other than a comprehensive printout after polls have closed. In fact, Oktibbeha received an unintentional trial run during this year”s Transportation Commissioner election and runoff after several counties voted not to use the printers and Oktibbeha was accidentally given voting machine software which disabled the printers.
After some confused phone calls, Oktibbeha election commissioners discovered why the voting machine printers weren”t working.
“Everything went fine,” said Carpenter of the Transportation Commissioner election. “For the runoff, we didn”t even put the printer housing cover on.”
Trainer wasn”t opposed to the idea of ceasing use of the printers, but asked the board to table the issue until the Democratic and Republican Executive Committees have had a chance to weigh in. Carpenter said he would talk to the political parties.
The vote passed 4-1.
In other business the board:
n Voted unanimously to grant the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries jurisdiction over a plot of land owned by county adjacent to Oktibbeha Lake.
Clark McMinn of the MDWF said the unmarked 40-acre plot was being used without permission by hunters and those hunters were trespassing on surrounding land to access the county land. The supervisors” decision closes the land to any unofficial use.
n Approved the transfer of an unmarked Ford Crown Victoria formerly used by the Oktibbeha County Sheriff”s Office to the 16th Circuit District Drug Court for use by a probation officer until the state provides a vehicle.
n Approved remapping for Oktibbeha Justice Court and Constable districts presented by the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District.
District 3 Justice Court Judge Jim Mills was on hand to voice his support for the remap and said the District 1 and District 2 judges also had no objections to the plan.
n Granted permission to the GTPDD to begin readying fliers to be mailed to each home and structure in Oktibbeha County notifying residents of pending new addresses.
A new address system will be enacted county wide to correct flaws in the current system and aid emergency responders in locating addresses. Residents will have one year from the date of the mailing to use either their new or old address before the new addresses become permanently active and the old addresses are removed from records.
Toby Sanford, Golden Triangle Planning and Development District geographic information systems manager, said the cards would likely be mailed within the next two weeks. He notified the board the time is right because the U.S. Postal Service in Jackson anticipates laying off “a whole bunch of folks,” many of whom will input the new addresses into the postal system.
n Appointed members to fill expiring terms on the Oktibbeha Economic Development Authority board.
n Chose not to pursue any Community Development Block Grants through the GTPDD in 2011 due to time and budget constraints.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.
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