Laurel Courthouse

On Monday, the Jones County Board of Supervisors voted to close out a “Tornado Fund” that was created in 2020 on the recommendation of the board’s Chief Financial Officer Charles Miller.

The fund, which contained money for all expenses related to debris clean-up from the tornadoes that touched down in the county in 2020. Additionally, Miller described the fund as an easy way to track expenditure of funds received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to assist with debris removal.

“We received from $4 to $5 million from the state and federal government,” explained Miller. “It took us $565,000 to close out the account.”

In other action, the board voted to approve ad valorem tax exemptions for several businesses in the county. Ten-year ad valorem tax exemptions were granted to Dunn Roadbuilders, LLC; Howard Industries Inc. (Lighting Division); Howard Industries Inc. (Technology Solutions Division); Howard Industries Inc. (Transformer Manufacturing Plant); Howard Industries Inc. (Power Transformer Substation); Laurel Machine and Foundry Company; and Wayne Farms, LLC.

“I want everyone to understand that this does not mean these companies are exempt from paying all taxes,” stated Chief Administrative Officer and Board Attorney Danielle Ashley. “They pay other taxes such as road and bridge and school taxes. This ad valorem tax exemption is not a blanket tax exemption on everything.”

Board President Johnny Burnett of Beat One asked Ashley to read the number of people each company employed and the amount of taxes each paid to the county in 2020.

According to Ashley, the Howards facilities combined employees numbered 3,200 and taxes paid were $7.36 million; Laurel Machine and Foundry employed 120 and paid $175,538 in taxes; Dunn Roadbuilders employed 160 and paid $171,203; and Wayne Farms employed 765 and paid $575,033.

“These companies have done and continue to do a lot of our county,” said Burnett. “They provide a good amount of revenue to the county and employment for our citizens.”

In yet other business during the June 7 meeting, board members heard from Meador Road resident Charles Cruise who voiced a complaint about excessive flooding in his community.

Burnett and Beat Two Supervisor Larry Dykes told Cruise they were aware of the flooding problem in the area. Burnett added that supervisors have asked the county engineer, Ronnie Clark, to have his staff examine the situation and look for a solution.

Wiley Pickering, an engineer with Chas. N. Clark Associates, was asked to give a report of what has been done thus far. Pickering explained that the county has limitations of what can be done off the right of way. However, he said the Jones County Soil and Conservation District can do something about the problem.

“I think a major problem is the amount of debris and overlay in the creeks and channels,” said Pickering. “We believe the removal of the debris will help a lot.”

Cruise went on to express additional concerns which led Pickering suggest a meeting at the site with him and Dykes. Pickering said he will be able to view the areas Cruise has pinpointed firsthand and bring back his findings to the board. The board voted to approve Pickering’s plan.

In an unrelated matter, Pickering informed board members that after reviewing the flood plain plan the county began working on in 2019 before the pandemic, FEMA alerted the engineer’s office that they discovered nine structures that were built without proper permits.

Pickering said the structures are not in compliance with federal regulations and must be torn down or raised to a higher level. The county engineer will be contacting property owners to bring them into compliance.

In further business, the Jones County Board of Supervisors:

 Accepted the lowest and best bid from Flynt’s Towing to purchase an old wrecker

from the sheriff’s department for $5,500. Other bids included Andy Skipper,

$2,001; William Knight, $5,001; and Brandon Alternator, $4,150.

 Acknowledged presenting a proclamation “Honoring the Life and Legacy” of

former Laurel Mayor Melvin Mack on the day of his funeral.

 Approved a contract agreement with the City of Laurel for the Hillcrest Drive