Supervisors hit snag in courthouse roof repair but get good news concerning care of local mental patients

The Union County Board of Supervisors hit a snag in efforts to have the courthouse roof repaired Monday, but received some good news about the continuing process of how to deal with mental patients.

The board had advertised for bids on the courthouse repair work and was prepared to open them Monday, but only received two.

They did open the bids but took them under advisement and did not want to discuss them other than to say they were much higher than expected and much higher than the funding that may be available.

Two supervisors, Danny Jordan and Randy Owen, were absent so the full board will discuss whether to re-advertise the project, abandon it or approach it some other way.

Architect William Mills said they might have received more bids but apparently some contractors did not know about the advertisement in time to prepare despite its being published by the usual means. He added that contractors also may be wary of undertaking repairs on the courthouse cupola because of its unusual design and copper sheathing.

The bids called for were one for general courthouse roof repair, a separate bid for the cupola and an alternate to repair or replace the eight halogen lights on the roof.

The good news concerning mental patients and citizens who may be committed came from Chancery Clerk Annette Hickey, who has been working on the problem.

For the past three years the county had contracted with Region IV Mental Health to immediately provide a bed for and handle procedures for local residents who needed to be place in a behavior health facility. Once the commitment order was signed, deputies picked up the person and transported him or her to the facility in Tupelo. There they took care of the examination, assigning legal representation and hearing, providing a bed until one opened up at the nearby state hospital.

Region IV abruptly discontinued their service in July, leaving the county no immediate alternative but to go back to temporarily housing mental patients in the county jail – something that does not meet legal requirements but appeared to be the only alternative at the time.

Now, Hickey said, Union County is working with Region IV on a case-by-case basis – there is no contract – to provide the services they were furnishing. The difference is that local residents would immediately be transported to the Region IV Corinth facility rather than Tupelo. And if a bed were not immediately available there, the facility and Batesville would be checked and, if necessary, Grenada.

Also, the new arrangement will not provide detox facilities, but supervisors agreed that is not as high a priority as handling the commitment cases.


In other business:

  • Supervisors approved designating the chancery courtroom as an extension of the courthouse for purposes of the delinquent land tax sale. The law requires the annual sale to be in the courthouse or on the courthouse steps but this year the circuit courtroom was in use and the high temperature was determined to be a hardship on everyone if the sale were held outside. Although the chancery court building is on the same property, supervisors simply made the designation to allow for technicalities.
  • Board members approved advertising for a county engineer to work on the Newport Road project. This is the industrial access road that will connect the Glenfield Road area with the front area of the former Futorian-Stratford plant. Since the closing of the railroad crossing in front of the plant, the only access is a roundabout route from the crossing west of the plant area or by going through Rolling Hills Subdivision. The county is getting a $270,000 Development Infrastructure Project grant, a $220,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant and the city and county will each pay matching amounts of $30,650.
  • Supervisors approved Sheriff Jimmy Edwards’ request to accept a $2,000 check into the general fund and to pay a $2,000 bill from Inmate Services Inc. of West Memphis. Edwards said the bill was for the cost of having Ramon and Janet Barreto transported from Portland, Ore. back to Union County and the check was from the bonding agent who had guaranteed the Barretos’ appearance before they fled this area. “So the county is not out a penny for getting them back,” the sheriff said.
  • The board approved a request from County Fire Coordinator Steve Coker to sign a basic mutual aid agreement with Lafayette County. He said the agreement is the standard one written by the state and used by departments within the county. There is no money involved and it basically says that one department will come to the aid of the other when asked. “It’s something we would do anyway,” Coker said.
  • Supervisors also approved a request from fire coordinator Coker to pay instructors who are teaching a volunteer certification class here now.
  • Members approved paying county bailiffs for papers served and other duties.
  • Supervisors approved paying attorney fees and expenses in the amount of $195 in response to an order from the circuit judge to cover certain cases.
  • The board approved paying Union County election commissioners’ per diem claims: Graham Spencer, First District, $588; Bill Azlin, Second District, $672; Barbara Reed, Third District, $672; Wayne Wilhite, Fourth District, $512; and Mike Beam, Fifth District, $756. Commissioners are allowed to be paid a set fee for a maximum number of days per year.
  • Supervisors approved paying the circuit clerk $672 for services as county registrar.
  • The approved a salary increase for sheriff’s department dispatcher Jackie Chappell upon is achieving state certification.


Since next Monday, Sept. 1, is Labor Day and governmental offices will close, the next regularly scheduled board meeting will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1.