What began as a social media spat from behind the keyboards continued in the boardroom Monday morning as a county supervisor and one of his challengers exchanged heated words.
District 1 Supervisor Van Foster said that Lee Moore, a Republican District 1 candidate, misunderstood his comments to a resident about a plan to repair part of a county road during a previous board meeting. Foster said he apologized to the resident for any misunderstanding, but Moore posted information on Facebook about the situation that was incorrect.
Foster said a discussion about using gravel to temporarily repair a section of the road somehow evolved into the idea that he wanted to convert the paved road back to gravel.
“The word got out that I was going to gravel all of Old Highway 49,” Foster said. “We wouldn’t do that. I know who did it.”
“You called me a liar and said there was never a discussion about putting gravel on Old 49,” Moore said.
“We would never do all of 49...” Foster continued.
“There was a discussion,” Moore said, from his seat in the audience.
“Don’t point your finger at me,” Foster responded.
District 3 Supervisor Willie “Deuce” Wright attempted to make a motion to adjourn the meeting, but the debate continued.
Moore said that he wanted an apology.
“You’re the one who made the statement,” Foster said. “I just want it to be known. He just keeps burning the Facebook up about all of this stuff, and I didn’t say what he said.”
“It can continue on Facebook, but we’re going to move on here,” said Sheriff Jake Sheriff.
“Y’all can have that conversation later,” said Board President Cobie Collins. “We need to conduct business.”
“I may have gone overboard with my Facebook comments, and I wish my daughter had not have put me on there,” Foster said.
The brief exchange between Foster and Moore might could be figuratively described as a “dumpster fire,” but actual dumpster fires were also a topic of discussion during the Monday board meeting.
Fires in dumpsters around the county are a common problem that forces volunteer responders to waste valuable time that might be needed in life threatening emergencies and costs taxpayers money because the fires greatly shorten the lives of the metal bins.
County Road Manager Jim Warrington said people have set fires in the dumpster behind the county barn in broad daylight while county employees were working nearby.
“There will be 30 of us over there working, and all of a sudden we’ve got a fire in five dumpsters,” Warrington said. “I’ve seen people pull up with a 30-foot horse trailer full of garbage, and there’s just not enough room.”
The topic of dumpsters followed Foster stating that he thinks the county needs to do a better job of preventing scavengers from trashing the garbage dropoff sites around the county.
“There is an ordinance against dumpster scavenging and digging in them,” Foster said. “It’s sad that we let a few bad apples affect those who are just trying to remove metal cans and stuff for extra income, but it’s gotten to be a problem. You can go out there and pick up the garbage, and the next morning it looks like a war zone again.”
Foster said the only way to reduce the problem is to enforce the law.
“I’m reluctant to fine anyone, but it has gotten to be a necessity that we do this,” Foster said. “Maybe the word would get around after a few citations were issued and the judge charged a fine and maybe even order some community service cleaning up around the dumpsters. This all falls back on the supervisors, and it falls on the local law enforcement to enforce this.”
Foster said another problem is people taking discarded items from dumpster sites and adding to their junk collections on their property.
“I’ve got a couple of places in my district where people are digging in the dumpsters and bringing the broken things back to their yard to display.”
Foster said he brought these cases to the attention of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, but he was told it was up to the county to decide whether or not to address the issue.
“It’s up to the local law enforcement, and I touched base with Jay (Board Attorney Jay Barbour) about it, and there is an ordinance where local law enforcement can tell these people they have to clean up their yards or the county can have the property cleaned up and assess the charges to their taxes,” Foster said. “I’m being a bad boy here I guess, but it’s becoming a necessity. I have to go around every month and pick up garbage around these dumpsters.”
Foster said he wants the sheriff’s department to get more aggressive about addressing the problem.
“I just want to encourage our local law enforcement to start policing them, and let’s see if we can’t get these dumpsters cleaned up,” Foster said.
Chief Deputy Joseph Head said that deputies don’t often see scavengers in the act, but anyone can file an affidavit against someone they witness in the act.
“Our guys can’t just patrol the dumpsters,” Head said.
“It’s ironic that we don’t hear these complaints until it’s election time,” Sheriff said.
“I’ve been telling y’all this since May of 2017,” Foster said.
“We don’t hear this until it’s election time,” Sheriff said.
“It finally came to a head because that’s what people are all complaining to me about,” Foster said.
“Well it seems like they don’t complain until election time,” Sheriff said.