By Jennifer Jacob Brown
When it comes to what went on in the most recent closed meeting of the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors, recollections vary quite a bit.
The board went into closed session at their regular meeting on Monday, and Board Attorney Rick Barry said the board was using the closed session to discuss litigation, one of the exemptions under state law whereby public officials can exclude the public.
But one supervisor said they discussed at least two other topics, which is a violation of the state's Open Meetings law. District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell said the board discussed a request from Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry for the county to pay half of the city's annual $30,000 payment to lobbyist Beth Clay, who is one of the state's top lobbyists. The City of Meridian is one of Clay's clients. She works with the city to lobby legislators on laws that could impact the Meridian area.
Boswell also said board members discussed the credit card usage of District 4 Supervisor Joe Norwood, who Boswell said was not present during either conversation.
Both of these topics involve the usage of county funds, which by law must be discussed by the board during open meetings. Three other supervisors, however, said nothing but litigation was discussed.
"We really hadn't gotten into the meat of the session, and that's when it was brought up," Boswell said of the discussion of the payment for lobbying work. "(Norwood) was coming on his way back when (Board President Hank Florey) asked everybody (about Clay's salary) and I said not no, but H-E-L-L no, we won't give a dime to them. And nobody would say anything."
Boswell said after the discussion on Clay's payment, County Administrator Mike Sumrall brought up Norwood's credit card usage.
Officials’ stories don’t match
By Jennifer Jacob Brown
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City defends plan to drain lake
City officials say they need to drain Long Creek Reservoir and cut a 40-foot section out of the lake's dam to protect lives and property downstream, but it is unclear from engineering reports and state officials if the dam needs to be totally drained and breached to shore up the dam.
State officials said city needs to contact feds about bald eagles
If there are bald eagles nesting at Long Creek Reservoir, then city officials need to contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, said Nick Winstead, an ornithologist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks Museum of Natural Science.
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Monday marks three months since the April 28 tornado ripped through Decatur, causing extensive damage to homes, businesses and government buildings.
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