BONIFAY — The Holmes County Board of County Commissioners gathered together for a special session on March 20 to discuss action for roads impacted during the recent flooding — specifically, District 3’s roads.
“I’ve had several calls about roads that weren’t up to standards even before the flooding,” said Commissioner David Whitaker. “Now we’ve got clay dumped out on roads and residents with vehicles stuck in mud up to their doors. I’ve seen the photos and I think it’s a leadership issue.”
Whitaker explained that both his foreman and grader operator were well educated and certified for their positions but both lack experience and requested assistance from his fellow districts until both could receive further training from well-experienced employees in their field.
“My grader operator is willing to get any additional training needed to do his job to the best of his abilities and that’s the kind of man I want to invest in,” said Whitaker. “It’s a lot easier to maintain a properly fixed road. The people can’t wait for years for these guys to get the experience they need before they can get their roads taken care of.”
Based on further discussion between Board members, County Attorney Jeff Goodman suggested eight to 12 weeks with Commissioner Bill Parish’s foreman overseeing what’s required to bring District 3’s roads back to standards with additional assistance from other districts when available.
“When there is a problem anywhere in this county it is not just a problem for that district it is a problem for the county,” said Parish. “I don’t mind stepping in and seeing about what’s needed to be done.”
Commissioner Kenneth Williams also volunteered to help when he was able.
“We’ve got some more rains coming this weekend and I’ve got to finish up with my district,” said Williams. “But as soon as I’m able I’ll send you whatever you need.”
Parish also agreed to ride along with his foreman and Whitaker’s road grader to give advice on how to correct and repair District 3’s roads.
Goodman reminded them that the commissioners weren’t allowed to talk to each other outside of a public meeting, however their road foremen and road grater operators could communicate with one another after the Board approved of an action.
The Board approved of Goodman’s recommendation to allow Parish’s foreman to oversee road repairs for District 3 and District 5 for eight to 12 weeks and to make the workers aware that he is in charge for that time period.
“Anything longer then 12 weeks and we’ll have to revisit the matter,” said Goodman.
Whitaker said he had another issue with his crew.
“I have concerns because three out of my five workers are related to each other,” said Whitaker. “There’s a guy working with his father-in-law and his brother-in-law. I inherited a problem and I’m looking to moving some people around.”
“They’re under union contract and one of your solutions is for lateral moves to other districts,” said Goodman. “At the same time the Board has to work together on which employees they want to take on and which ones they’re willing to give up. It’s not our employees’ fault that we put them in that position.”
The Board agreed to give this matter further consideration before coming up with a possible solution.
Commissioner Bobby Sasnett requested the procedure for new hires.
“First, there has to be an opening,” said Goodman. “The we consider employees within the county before we advertise to bring someone in from outside sources.”
The Board reviewed and approved of a letter to be sent to all department heads on the process of presenting issues and requests before the Board.
The next scheduled meeting of the BOCC is set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26 at the county commissioners’ office located at 107 East Virginia Ave. in Bonifay.