UPDATE: Mantachie police chief not rehired

Mantachie’s new board of aldermen wasted no time in making significant changes during last Tuesday night’s lengthy meeting.
Arguably the biggest decision made was not to rehire police chief Terry Jones or any of the three officers under his command, effective immediately. The vote followed an hour-and-a-half executive session, in which the board members discussed several personnel changes. The board appointed three temporary replacement officers — Brad Rogers, Tim Posey and Ronnie Abbott — until a new police force can be hired.
Jones was appointed as police chief of Mantachie by the former board of aldermen in Sept. 2005, replacing John Spradlin who resigned. During his time as head of the police force, he procured two drug dogs, three new vehicles with equipment and several new officers.
At the time of Tuesday’s decision, the Mantachie Police Department was
operating with two full-time officers, Jones and Danny Crumb, and one part-time reserve officer, Nelson McMillen. Wilton Cooper, another full-time officer and drug dog handler, is currently overseas serving in Iraq.
Although the board voted against rehiring any of the city’s officers, Mayor Jeff Butler said its members plan to rehire Cooper at their next meeting.
According to Butler, the board was answering the requests of voters when its members decided against rehiring Jones as chief of police.
“The board members indicated the constituents who elected them wanted a change in the police department; they didn’t like the way things were being run and wanted a change,” he said.
The mayor said the town looks to hire new police officers in a short amount of time, hoping to appoint a new police chief as early as the August 4 meeting.
Additionally, the board hired a new attorney, Gregory Keenum of Booneville. Keenum replaces longtime board attorney Ray O’ Neal, who also represents the Fulton Board of Aldermen. Ward 2 Alderman Matt Fennell voted against the change.
The board also voted to consolidate its water and sewer departments into a single entity. Now called Mantachie Public Works, the department will handle all public utilities, as well as building inspections. Current water department director Rod McFerrin will head the department.
“[McFerrin] will still be handling both water and sewer but will take up other responsibilities as well,” Butler explained. The board also plans to hire an assistant for McFerrin.
Former building inspector Joe Barnes was told he would not be rehired since they were consolidating his position with another.
Three of the town’s aldermen, Mike Horton, Wayne Guin and Timmy “Red” Spradlin, are new to the position, while only two of the former board’s aldermen, Fennell and Tim Jones, returned to office. Jones was absent during the meeting.
Adam Armour can be reached at 862-3141, by e-mailing adam.armour @itawamba360.com or by visiting his blog at itawamba360.com.

Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times