Whistleblower named North Lee Water interim head

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The whistleblower employee who helped launch an investigation into the North Lee County Water Association now heads the organization as its interim supervisor.
Sonny Noble was appointed to the position Friday by the interim board – or what’s left of it. Just three directors remain after Wayne Fitzner resigned Friday. He was the second to step down last week and the sixth to leave since Oct. 4.
“It’s a mess out there,” Fitzner told the Daily Journal on Monday. “It’s an incredible mess. There are a million things wrong.”
Fitzner said he couldn’t dedicate the time needed to straighten out the water association, which faces numerous allegations of mismanagement, favoritism and falsification of water sample collections. Those claims are under investigation by the Mississippi Department of Health, Mississippi Public Service Commission and Attorney General’s Office.
In the meantime, Noble will head daily operations of the association, which provides water to roughly 4,400 customers across north Lee County. He is the second interim supervisor since the forced resignation of longtime association chief Dan Durham.
Durham quit amid board pressure Oct. 6. He initially was replaced by Daniel Vaughan, whom the board picked at the request of then-board President Mitchell Scruggs, who resigned from the board last week.
Since then, remaining board members had a chance to visit with other employees and decided Noble had more direct experience with North Lee and would better serve the organization.
The board said it will seek a permanent supervisor in an open application process to be held sometime within the next few months. Noble said he plans to apply for the permanent position when it becomes available.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com