After some unprovoked attacks on residents were reported, Justice Court Judges Ted Blakeney and James Savelle joined the Simpson County Board of Supervisors on June 13 to discuss the continuing problem of unconfined canines roaming the county.
The board invited the justice court judges to the meeting to get their input and acknowledge that the board would be supported in their findings.
The dog attacks can be dealt with through the justice court system, but the county supervisors are preparing to implement ordinances that will hold owners responsible who are not properly maintaining the welfare of their animals.
The biggest problem is how to deal with a violent dog. The options are confinement or euthanasia, for which the county would be responsible in this case.
The board is discussing finding owners guilty of a misdemeanor with increasing fines based on additional offenses. Some preliminary comments are that first time offenders could get a $50 fine with subsequent fines going up to $500 along with jail time up to six months. The charge would depend on the seriousness of the offense.
Part of the problem of mischief or damage done by unconfined dogs is that typically no one claims ownership once the dogs become nuisance animals. But the law determines that once a dog domiciles on a property for up to 24 hours, it becomes the landowner’s responsibility.
The county’s commitment to better animal control can be expensive, but because of the increased attacks on humans as well as livestock the board has decided to act.
Enforcement will start out under the Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Paul Mullins said that Rankin County has eight officers who deal with problem animals. When dogs are picked up, they must be housed in kennels in an area built on a concrete pad in order to prevent the spread of disease.
The sheriff told the board that he would not be operating an adoption facility, meaning that the owners will have to pick the dogs up or they will be shipped elsewhere or euthanized.
The problem occurs because people do not accept responsibility for their animals.
The board then heard from Thomas Ray Floyd about the school district’s plan to build a consolidated high school. Floyd contends that the district does not have the authority to obligate the taxpayers to servicing the debt for the consolidated high school and that only the County Board of Supervisors has that authority.
The amount of the note for the capital lease is in excess of $27 million. Floyd contends that 57 percent of the people of the county voted against the proposal; however, that was 57 percent of the voters who turned out, which was only 3,824 of the approximately 17,079 voters of Simpson County.
In other business, the board approved hiring John Thomas for the Road Department. Ben Warren, road manager, told the board that hot mix as well as tar and rock were about to be put down on problem roads. Supervisors expressed concern that materials for the roads have not been stockpiled in the county. Part of the problem is the ever increasing cost of those materials.
The board had previously discussed the tax exemption status for Real Pure Beverage in Magee. The business could seek up to ten years of exemption, but the county initially approved only five years. That term is set to expire next year, but it had been reported that their recently filed exemption request was late for the current tax year. That was not accurate in that the exemption would be for next year. Real Pure is also seeking exemptions for machinery and equipment for $89,000 for a ten year period.
John Kilpatrick, county director of emergency services, told the board that funds for Covid and last year’s February ice storm should arrive in July.
Solid waste collection continues to be a problem with 417 of the recent 1,563 names listed for renewal having outstanding balances for garbage pickup payment.
The board is also considering appointments to the Poplar Springs Water District. They approved the appointment of Howard Fewell to the board.
The next scheduled meeting of the board is set for Tuesday, July 5.