Blind Leading the Blind
The other day I blogged about the placement of the waste site and it caught the attention of News 7. The board meeting was filled with people concerned about the proposal. The mayor and several board members tried to say that the matter was blown out of proportion; saying the waste site will be located on Yawn School Road and not in the South Lamar Industrial Park. Well, I gave the wrong location but I was blogging on very limited information. I apologize to my readers for the misinformation but the fact that the "owner" of Rolloff Recycling Center does not know the location of the site raises some red flags as well. I was working with limited resources but how in the garbage truck can a person purchase a plot of land, have the deed to the land and not know the address or location of the land that he purchased. Fred Martin, the owner of the Rolloff Recycling, LLC, does not know if his so called recycling center will be on 380 Yawn School Road or 489 Yawn School Road. Also, at the meeting, Martin was asked why he was moving the location of his recycling center and he said there was a noise issue and he denied that his site was ever located in Sumrall, Mississippi.
Let me skip to the end of the meeting, Mayor Ben Winston announced to the citizens of Lumberton that he lives near the South Lamar Industrial Park and he will be very critical of anything wanting to locate in that area; especially a trash dump. Well, I wish I could believe that were true. The reason I'm hesitant to take Winston at his word is because I remember when Aaron Lott needed a command center for the sales of those FEMA trailers and Winston gave him complete control of the double wide trailer that housed his wife's custom basket making business, during a peak gift giving season, and put his wife in the back of the building in a small, rusted out camper trailer. And for that reason, I cannot trust Winston when he tries to assure us that he's going to look out for his family because he has already shown us that money trumps matrimony.
After the meeting, Rachel Beech of News 7 interviewed Alderwoman Cora Rogers, who was against the placement of the dump site, and Alderman Tommy Dukes, who is for the dump site. According to Dukes,
"Lumberton is at the bottom looking up. We need things to create jobs."I agree that Lumberton need jobs but the problem with this project is there is nothing in writing. There's nothing to hold Rolloff Recycling, LLC accountable. Winston and Dukes are trying to convince the citizens of Lumberton that this is a good thing for Lumberton, but how can we determine if this is a good deal without a diagram, a business module, a traffic route, an environmental impact report, an outline of how this will or will not impact our water system or any documentation showing the impact a facility of this nature will have on our community. At some point, these concerns had to be addressed to the Lamar County Board of Supervisors. According to Mayor Winston, the County had already dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's. So, if this project is not a big deal, then why was there an application sent to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, why did the Lamar County classify this site as a landfill and amended their Solid Waste Plan to accommodate this facility, and if this is a county project, on county land, why do they need the City of Lumberton to sign off on the project; saying they want it in their community. In my opinion, it is so the City of Lumberton can assume any liability that will or may arise from the placement of this facility. The Lamar County Board of Supervisors have kept the City of Lumberton in the dark during the entire process and then as they are ready to cross the finish line, they want to pass the baton to Lumberton and say don't worry about how we got to this point, just take what we're giving you and carry it to the finish line. Utter ridiculousness. Also, since the Solid Waste Plan was amended to support this facility, the surrounding counties were supposed to be notified of the amendment. After contacting Pearl River County and Forrest County Board of Supervisors, they both said that the last notification they received was for an amendment to the Solid Waste Plan made in December of 2010; another red flag because anytime an amendment is made, the adjourning counties are to be notified.
Please note, they are trying to sway your focus. There are still plans in place to get the City of Lumberton to sign a waiver, releasing Lamar County from the clause to economically develop the South Lamar Industrial Park. I am certain that Winston and Byrd already know the plans they have for the property and they both know that once the waiver is signed, Lamar County is no longer obligated to use the land for economic development. For those of you who think Winston and Byrd are not that close because Byrd defeated Winston to become District 2 Supervisor and because Winston was such a sore loser that he refused to return the truck to the County; think again. Byrd has made several trips to Winston's place of business and he's been in contact with Winston. Byrd needs Winston to push these measures through and despite the fact that Winston wants his job back; he's playing along to get along. At this juncture, I don't know what's going on. I'm going to sit back, like Miss Celie on the Color Purple and see what colors come on the wall next. I can't figure out what's going on between the two but I'm digging and I'm sure once the whole truth is revealed, there's going to be some kickbacks behind these deals. In my honest opinion, I don't think Winston would be pushing this agenda so hard if it wasn't going to line his pockets.
Another fact that finally came to surface at the meeting was the duties and responsibilities of the mayor and alderpersons. As shown on the news, Winston made an effort to keep Alderwoman Cora Rogers from speaking. Winston was finally told that he was out of order; a fact that has been evident since the election. There's an old saying, "those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it." For some reason, the board and the city clerk has been allowing Winston to rule the meetings with an iron fist, when in reality, "the mayor works at the will and pleasure of the board members." If you don't recall that statement, it was made Alderman Kent Crider when he, Johnson and Gibson demanded that Mayor Holder not address the board and follows the agenda as it was written. Crider also stated that "we can have you removed from the meeting if you don't comply with our orders." Unless I missed something, this is still a code charter municipality and the same rules apply. But for some reason, Crider and other board members have allowed Winston to break the guidelines set forth for mayors of a code charter municipality. If Winston does not know his role/responsibilities then it's the duty and responsibility of the city clerk to remind him that he is committing an ethics violation.
Last night, there was a budget meeting or should I say an attempt to have a budget meeting. It seems that there are still some problems compiling a budget. Our clerk is waiting for more information from Willie Sims so the budget can be completed. Again, correct me if I'm wrong, Sims was hired to check the budget not prepare the budget. So, as of now, we're spending money and don't know how much we have in the bank. Just think, for years, Crider, Johnson and Gibson fought Mayor Holder tooth and nail keep Willie Sims out of the office to serve as a means of checks and balances for the city because they did not want to know what the clerk at that time was doing and now it seems that the entire budget process is being put on the shoulders of Sims; my how things have changed. Again, there's talk of how getting rid of the police department would save the City of Lumberton so much money but how can they make such a statement without a prepared budget. Where are they getting the information to make such a statement? Another concern I have is the fact that the City of Lumberton just paid $6,000 for a zero turn lawn mower but our police officers are using expired/outdated equipment while trying to patrol and protect our citizens. I know it's important to have the grass cut, but it's equally important to make sure our police officers have all the equipment they need to safely patrol the City of Lumberton. I know this has been a week of a lot of news that people don't want to hear, but sometimes, the truth is a hard pill to swallow. I promise, I will be reviewing my information and see if there are some solutions that could be offered instead of just giving details about the problems. In more encouraging news, demolition of the old Movie Star Building is slated to begin next week and they are looking to hire locally. If you are interested in getting a job with the demolition crew, there will be a contractor at the location next week. I will keep my ear to the ground and see if I can get a contact number. Enjoy the weekend and please be in prayer for the bereaved families of Lumberton.