Supervisors eye probation services

By Philip Moulden

Daily Journal

A Tennessee company urged Lee County supervisors Monday to contract for services to provide probation oversight for misdemeanor violators.

David Huffine, executive director of Adult Probation Services Co. of Humboldt, Tenn., said the service could pump more money into county coffers by assuring that people abide by probation terms, including timely payment of fines.

The company would also work to assure that law violators performed any community service ordered by the Justice Court, and would point out to the judge any violators who committed other offenses during their probation period, Huffine said.

“We make them go to work, we make them get their GEDs (high school equivalent educations), we try to make them functional in society,” he said.

The service would cost the county nothing, Huffine said. Probationers would be charged $20 a month for the length of their sentence.

But court officials weren’t sure the program could meet its goal, at least not until the new county jail is ready for occupancy in mid-1997. The problem now is there is no room at the jail for minor offenders, and without the threat of incarceration Huffine’s firm could put no more leverage on violators than the county currently does, Justice Court Judge Mayo Grubbs said.

“The only problem I see right quick is you can’t implement it,” Grubbs told supervisors. “And the word gets around real quick if you can’t do what you say.”

Supervisors took the request under advisement.

Board members also said they would study a proposal by an Alabama firm to audit the county’s telecommunications costs to see if savings are possible.

Harold Honnoll, vice president for Telecommunications Specialists Inc. headquartered in Mobile, said his company would conduct the audit without charge. If the county adopted any of its recommendations, the company would get 50 percent of the savings generated for one year.

In other action, the board approved creation of a new volunteer fire district in southeast Lee County.

The Union Volunteer Fire District got the board’s blessing after a public hearing in which no opposition arose. Residents in the proposed district had 30 days to file a petition demanding a referendum on the issue after supervisors announced their intent last month to form the district.

“We’ve had no calls or correspondence on the matter, against the district,” County Administrator Ronnie Bell said.

“The community is showing real good interest in it. They (volunteers) are already getting training to be ready to go.”

The fire department is expected to begin operations by fall. It covers the southeast corner of the county and on its west edge to the area outside Plantersville.

The board also approved a 10-year property tax exemption for the $91 million Norbord Inc. plant north of Guntown. Norbord, which manufactures a wall board of pressed wood in its highly automated plant, employs 126 workers. It’s annual payroll tops $2.3 million.

The exemption will free it from county property taxes on its grounds, building and equipment for 10 years. It will still pay school taxes.

“I think Lee County is fortunate to have a company like this. It’s huge,” board President Billy Davis noted.

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