Oktibbeha supervisors appointed David Kennard, former executive director of the Tombigbee River Valley Water Management District, to the state-run agency’s board as an Oktibbeha County representative.
Kennard recently retired from the executive director position and had expressed an interest in representing the county on the board, District 1 Supervisor and Board President John Montgomery said at Monday’s meeting.
“I don’t think anybody could give us a better leg up than him,” he said. “He would certainly give Oktibbeha County our money’s worth.”
The board voted 3-0 with Montgomery, District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer and District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams present. Marvell Howard of District 3 and Bricklee Miller of District 4 were absent.
The Tupelo-based water management district oversees and coordinates flood control, cleanup and repair projects on waterways of all sizes in 13 northeast Mississippi counties, most recently Oktibbeha County after the supervisors voted 3-2 in May to join the district. Flooding and drainage issues have been a priority for the supervisors due to heavy rains over the past year, and the vote came after months of debate over whether the $133,000 annual membership fee would be worth it.
Montgomery and Miller both voted against joining the agency, citing their concerns that Oktibbeha County would be low on the agency’s priority list and that it would take workers years to get to the county’s drainage projects. Kennard told the board in June that the agency works on a few projects per county every year, rotating from Alcorn County in the north to Kemper County and back.
Gov. Tate Reeves will appoint Oktibbeha County’s other district board member, and the board voted 3-0 to write a letter to Reeves recommending he appoint William Hilbun, an insurance agent in Starkville, whom Trainer said he had been hoping to recommend that the supervisors appoint.
In other business, the supervisors voted 3-0 to extend the county’s curfew, from midnight to 4 a.m., until the next meeting on Jan. 4.
Oktibbeha County is one of the counties under Reeves’ mask mandate assigned to individual counties in which COVID-19 coronavirus cases are continuing to spike. Reeves added Oktibbeha to the list of counties, now totaling 61, on Dec. 1. The mandate will last through Jan. 15.
The board unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with the Mississippi State Department of Health to allow the department to direct traffic in the parking lot outside the county health department building after people receive both tests and upcoming vaccinations for COVID-19.
Additionally, the board will consider purchasing new voting machines for the county at the next meeting.
Bill Lowe, an account representative with Election Systems and Software (ES&S), showed the board a machine on Monday that would replace the current touchscreen voting machines with units that would process and record paper ballots at polling locations.
Montgomery said after the meeting that the current machines are outdated and the proposed new ones require less maintenance.
“This (machine) gives you a paper backup, whereas now you only get generated a number,” he said. “That number is something you want to be able to trust, and to have some backup like (the) paper ballot, I think, gives people more confidence in our election process.”
Tess Vrbin was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.
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