O’Cain requests that county foot bill


Despite the fact that former Sheriff Donald O’Cain has been unable to work since October of last year, he has requested to be allowed to attend the annual law enforcement conference in June at the county’s expense. 

O’Cain vacated the office of sheriff last year following a lengthy illness, and Greg Reynolds was appointed sheriff.  It was specified that if O’Cain received a clean bill of health he could return to serve as sheriff.  He has not been released from doctors’ care to return to work.  

O’Cain made his request at the department  that he be able to attend the annual law enforcement conference on the coast.  Sheriff Greg Reynolds presented the request to the Simpson County Board of Supervisors. 

Supervisor Randy Moore made a motion to table the request until a later date.  The motion was seconded by Supervisor Curtis Skiffer, and the board voted to table the motion until the June board meeting. 

The board was asked by the newspaper why they would consider sending O’Cain to the conference when he is not the sheriff. 

Members of the board said they would like to discuss the issue further.  The conference will have started by the date of the next board meeting.

Board attorney Danny Welch said this is an unusual circumstance because O’Cain was elected sheriff despite the fact that he is not fulfilling the obligations of the job at this time.  

O’Cain continues to draw full salary during his recovery.  The county is also paying a second full salary to  Greg Reynolds, who is serving as the appointed sheriff.  O’Cain is retired from the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the State Auditor’s Office but has not submitted his resignation as sheriff of Simpson County. 

In other business the county has experienced much damage from the recent rash of rain storms.  One area in particular is a public road that serves Gerald Brown’s property as well as an old cemetery. Brown, a candidate for supervisor District 4, lives on Graveyard Road. 

According to information reported at the board meeting, Brown had blocked the culvert with gates and hog wire, which may have played a role in the culvert blowing out and destroying the road.  This impeded the flow of the stream, which recorded a 6.6 inch rainfall in a four hour period.  The county road manager cited other incidents where property owners block or attempt to block county property. 

Estimates for the original road repairs were in the neighborhood of $26,000. The road will now require several thousand more dollars in repair work.   

The board approved forming a committee of Sheriff Greg Reynolds,  Glen Jennings and County Administrator Rhuel Dickinson to interview candidates to replace Jennings, who is retiring as the county’s Emergency Manager.  The committee is to make their recommendation to the Board of Supervisors for a candidate.  An advertisement for the position is in the legal section of this week’s newspaper. 

The board approved paying the claim of Nova Tatum for a freak accident that occurred when the county was doing roadwork. A backhoe was traveling and Tatum pulled to the side of the road to allow it to pass.  It so happened that she stopped  on a culvert, which collapsed while she was sitting there.  This caused damaged to the underside of her vehicle.  The bid for repair was $2,800. 

Bids for a road project came in higher than anticipated for emergency bridge repair from Hemphill Construction in the amount of $591,957.20.  The board approved modifying the plans, which involved gravel road access to the bridge. Part of the road is currently gravel.  This allowed for the bid to be reduced on the project to $524,333.50.