McComb Mayor Quordiniah Lockley lit into a Pike County supervisor who hosted a large pool party over the weekend, with the mayor stressing the importance of following public health orders.
Appearing before the city board on Tuesday, Pike County Supervisor Tazwell Bowsky admitted to breaking a mandate on limiting crowd sizes and holding a party for young people in the city.
The party came as Gov. Tate Reeves handed down new executive orders on Friday limiting crowd sizes to 10 people indoors and 20 people outdoors. The order extends to private properties but not businesses that have already reduced their capacity by 50%.
In addition to limiting crowd sizes, Reeves’ new order also impacts bars, which are no longer allowed to sell alcohol after 11 p.m. and must stay at or below 50% capacity.
Bowsky said he wasn’t sure how many people came to the party, but it was much more than what the governor’s mandate allows.
“I cast myself on the mercy on the board of mayor and selectmen,” Bowsky said. “None of this was intentional, but when I made the decision to do this, none of this was in effect.”
Bowsky said he threw the party because he wanted to give young people something to do. He said Wednesday he was not sure how many people came to the party, but he made sure attendees were respectful.
“Business picked up, and people came, and people came, and people came,” he said, noting that he eventually started turning people away if they drove but could not bring himself to tell people to turn around if they walked to the party.
“I gave that out as a venue where they wouldn’t be worrying the police officers on Summit Street. I gave them that because I didn’t want the police running them down, and I didn’t want them to be running from the police.”
He said this was not the first time he’s held a pool party, noting that everyone in the neighborhood knows and respects him, and that “most of those young adults out there know me. I don’t allow foolishness.”
Bowsky said he stayed in his garage and monitored who and what came in and out of his home.
“It was not an impromptu thing,” he said. “These young folks are desperate for something to do.”
Bowsky said he didn’t know what the rules on limiting social gatherings were and he planned the party two months in advance when restrictions had been lifted.
“Where did we stand? Nobody knew, so I did it,” he said, adding that he did ask people to social distance at the party, but that quickly fell by the wayside.
Lockley said it doesn’t matter what position someone holds in government, they need to follow the governor’s orders.
“Even as elected officials, we have to adhere to the governor’s orders,” he said.
Still, Bowsky said there needs to be an outlet for young people to combat rising crime.
“We are going to have to make that commitment to do something for these youngsters, and it is evident because they kept showing up because they didn’t have anywhere else to do or anything else to do,” Bowsky said. “We need to change the atmosphere of McComb, Mississippi.”
Lockley said he agreed with Bowsky in that regard but that doesn’t change the fact that he violated the executive order, noting that no matter what city and county leaders do for young adults, they have to keep the pandemic in mind.
“All the parties and all that that is above 20 folks, you are illegal,” he said. “Our police department has the right to come and ask you to disperse. You need to know that, so when they come and knock on your door ... you need to adhere to our police department. There is no ifs, ands or buts about it. You are in violation. Don’t have our police officers have to come to your house or establishment and tell you are in violation.”