A 3-1 vote at Friday’s Pike County Board of Supervisors meeting ended the mask mandate for county-owned property and buildings, although local mandates remain in effect in three of the county’s four municipalities.
Mask mandates remain in effect in McComb, Summit and Magnolia.
Supervisors Robert Accardo, Jake Gazzo and Lee Fortenberry voted in favor of ending the county mandate, while Tazwell Bowsky opposed. Supervisor Sam Hall was absent.
Supervisors recalled intending the mandate to mirror the statewide requirement, which ended in October.
“We actually exceeded the governor’s lift date,” Accardo said. “All the feedback I’ve gotten is it’s time to lift it. We’ve had quite a few complaints about it, getting into the courthouse and everything.”
Bowsky urged more caution.
“This thing is not going away, not right now,” Bowsky said of COVID-19, which state health officials said is straining hospitals across Mississippi as cases continue to rise.
Gazzo said he would support lifting the mandate, but under the provision that it could be reinstated if needed.
“If we see a need for it again, we can actually act without the governor. We did it before; we could do it again without hesitation,” Accardo said.
Fortenberry said he felt the installation of plastic shields in the courthouse negated much of the need for masks there.
“If someone wants to wear a mask for their protection, I say definitely wear it,” he added.
Accardo clarified that although masks aren’t required in county buildings, they will still be required when people leave the courthouse since it’s in Magnolia, where a mandate remains in effect.
Despite the order being lifted at the time of the supervisors’ vote, some members of the board continued to wear their masks through the end of the meeting.
Mississippi State Department of Health reported 19 new cases of COVID-19 in Pike County on Friday, the third day in a row the county posted new cases in double digits. The county’s average for the past week is nine new cases per day, its highest weekly average since mid-August.
Also at Friday’s meeting, supervisors:
• Granted a permit to Cable One to install underground coaxial cable along or across Driftwood Road near Summit. The board also granted a permit to CSpire Fiber, to construct fiber optic cable along or across College Drive.
• Paid $27,189 to Greenbriar Digging, the sixth payment to the company for sewer improvements at Gateway Industrial Park.
• Hired U.S. Next of Jackson to design a new website for the county at a low bid of $750 for the design. The county will pay $199 a month for site maintenance.
• Authorized Juvenile Drug Court Judge John Price to contract Glen Chivaro, who will provide services including curfew checks, drug testing, supervising community service projects and attending hearings. Chivaro will be paid $750 per month.
• Delayed until next meeting the discussion of reappointment or replacement of three members of the Economic Development District Board. The terms of Paul Singleton in District 2, James Wicker in District 3 and Norman Price in District 4 are expiring. Supervisors chose to wait until Hall is present.
• Reviewed employee action forms to be discussed at the next meeting. County Administrator Tami Dangerfield said the hires are within the county’s budget.
• Authorized Bethany D. Stringer to prepare the county’s financial statements for 2020.
• Approved four rentals of Pike County Multipurpose Complex. Dangerfield said all renters are aware that CDC precautions against COVID-19 apply there.
• Approved Mississippi Association of Supervisors proposals for the 2021 legislative session. Proposals include legislation to fund the Homestead Exemption Reimbursement, to give counties authority for supervisors’ salary adjustments, to increase E-911 funding, to provide for Rural Fire Truck Acquisition and Rural Fire Truck funds, and to provide state funding for the First Responders Health & Safety Act passed in 2019.
• Established the Hines Private Family Cemetery.
• At Board Attorney Wayne Dowdy’s request, delayed an executive session to discuss litigation until next meeting.