Superintendent withdraws request to close road

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, July 6, 2022

The Jefferson Davis County Board of Supervisors met for the first meeting of July Tuesday morning in the board room in Prentiss. Rev. Jessie Holloway opened with prayer before the agenda was approved.

Jefferson Davis County Superintendent Ike Haynes updated the board on safety concerns at Jefferson Davis County High School. He announced to the board that for the first time in school district history, a chief of police has been hired for the district. “That speaks to the times we are living in,” said Haynes. “There are people that will slaughter innocent children in a school building.”

During a previous board of supervisors meeting in June, Haynes made a request for assistance from the board with options for the possible closure of Bass Burkett. In a “perfect world” the road would be closed an annexed as school property. A second option Haynes proposed in June was to close a portion of Bass Burkett Road during school hours and school functions only, therefore adding control and safety to the children and community. “I am withdrawing the request to close or annex the portion of Bass Burkett Road to Highway 42,” said Haynes Tuesday. “All I ever wanted was to close the school during business hours, but you never start where the end game is.”

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The main entrance to the school building has always been on Bass Burkett Road, but that will soon change. After construction of the campus is complete, the entrance will be from Highway 42 just behind the visitor’s bleachers. Haynes’ concern is the vulnerability and tremendous access of the classrooms on Bass Burkett Road. “Anyone can pull up now and walk up to any window on that side of the building,” said Haynes.  “Suppose they know the schedule. They can walk right up to the window and find their target and shoot.”

Because the campus is severely limited in parking availability, Haynes made the decision last year to keep the, what he considered then, as “precious” parking spaces and not put a fence in that area. “Those children’s lives are more precious,” said District 3 Supervisor Demarrio Booth. Haynes agrees.

Haynes did consult with some, not all, residents on Bassfield Cemetery Road. In the initial meeting with the board Haynes said he received some positive response, however, since then the response has been that they are against the road being closed. “I think with you making that decision putting the fence down will be a better decision for the school and the community. You will still be able to protect the children at the same time,” Booth said.

The board of supervisors had consulted with the county engineer and was ready to close the road during school hours.

“Our engineer was going to help you with the proper signage, but we heard you were getting some negative feedback so that’s why we asked you here today,” said District 1 Supervisor Corky Holliman.

“I do want to point out that everything that we are doing is to protect the children in the school district given the unprecedented times we are living in,” said Haynes. “We have got to do something.” Haynes hopes every citizen will be thinking about what he or she can do to help the school system and the kids be safe. “Unfortunately, we are not all thinking about how we can help the kids at this time. I might need to do a better job of talking about the problem instead of the solution.”

The school board has entered negotiations with Jim Terrell to buy outright the 15 acres the board is leasing at this time for parking. “That will solve a multitude of woes that we have there.”

According to the board of supervisors, Bass Burkett Road was designed as a federal highway route years ago which gives the board of supervisors the authority to close it if deemed necessary.

The budget request for Pine Belt Solid Waste and Pearl River Valley Opportunity will remain the same.

The board approved for the advertisement of bids for new voting machines. The Mississippi Voting Modernization Act that was passed earlier this year by the State Legislature. This Act will provide funding for all counties in Mississippi to receive new voting equipment.

In other news, the board approved the following without opposition before the board went into executive session and the meeting was adjourned:

  • Approved minutes.
  • Approved rescinding “Order accepting quote for bushhog for District 3.”
  • Approved 2022-2023 budget schedule.
  • Approved board president signing acceptance of services with Prince CPA Firm.
  • Approved renewal for airport liability insurance with board president singing renewal premium.
  • Approved appointment of Anna Keys to Pearl River Valley Opportunity board of directors.
  • Approved equalization of tax rolls.
  • Approved employment action forms for Districts 1 and 5.
  • Approved spreading into the minutes an employee action form for Chancery Clerk.
  • Approved hiring of part-time housekeeping position for DHS building.
  • Approved acceptance of limestone from state contracts.
  • Approved fourth quarter appropriations for tax assessor and sheriff’s department.
  • Approved claims.
  • Approved board president signing budget certification from JDC schools.
  • Approved board president signing letter prepared by Dr. James Smith on monitoring issues.
  • Approved mileage increase by state to 62.5 cents.
  • Approved to accept tax assessor’s recap: affidavit to personal roll, valuation of motor vehicles and mobile homes and affidavit to the land roll.