TYLERTOWN — Newly elected coroner Chris Blackwell asked Walthall County supervisors for permission to purchase equipment for the new term, but he may not get everything he wants.
Blackwell met with the board Jan. 6 and requested a number of items, some of which have a hefty price tag.
Among the asks was a coroner’s car for going to death scenes, a camera better than is available in a cell phone, a computer and a Mississippi Wireless Infornation Network-enabled radio.
He also asked for badges for himself and his deputy coroners — with his personalized with his name — a death investigation kit and body bags.
Blackwell told supervisors many counties have started providing a car for their coroners, and that coroners are now required to have a government email account for conducting official business.
He also said that the non-MS-WIN radio he has access to doesn’t get signal in all parts of the county.
Supervisors said they would take the requests under advisement, and returned to the requests later in the meeting after Blackwell left.
They expressed doubts that many Mississippi counties have bought cars for their coroners, and the radio request was reminiscent of discussions during the previous term.
Then, former supervisor Fred Magee Jr. made repeated requests to supply the county’s constables with MS-WIN-enabled radios. The purchase was eventually allowed out of the constable budget.
Supervisors seemed amenable to most of the requests other than the car, provided Blackwell buys one of the $1,500 radios that matches the rest of those in use by the county, rather than the $4,100 model he asked for. Purchasing Clerk Hannah Bourgeois said the county cannot personalize equipment bought with county funds, meaning Blackwell’s badge cannot have his name on it unless he buys it himself.
The board noted that the legislature approved higher salaries and fees for county officers, including coroners. Blackwell said the monthly salary increased from $900 to $1,250, plus an increase from $125 to $175 per case.
Supervisors also accepted raises to $41,612 per year, based partly on a legislative increase and partly on an increase in the county’s assessed valuation.
In other business, the board:
• Heard personnel actions in the sheriff’s department, including the resignations of Robbie Roberts and Harold Ward for positions in Pike County, and the hiring of Pike County coroner and former McComb police officer Wally Jones as an investigator.
• Heard a request for help with a drainage from A.R. Robinson of 407 Joe Pittman Road.
• Approved renewing the state fire contract and a mutual aid agreement with Southwest Marion Volunteer Fire Department.
• Approved additions and deletions from the county inventory.
• Paid economic developer Pam Keaton’s $225 dues to the Mississippi Economic Development Council.
• Learned a meeting on four-laning the highway between Tylertown and Franklinton, La., would be held in Franklinton.
• Accepted the personal property insolvent list from Tax Assessor Peggy Hilburn.
• Heard a complaint from Dwight Wicker of Old Holmesville Road that his garbage was not being picked up.
• Accepted November civil fines and fees of $4,538 and criminal fines and fees of $14,812.47 from the justice court, as well as $4,538.61 in unclaimed funds.
• Approved travel for Justice Court Clerk Janet Laird.
• Received an audit proposal from Fortenberry and Ballard and asked Deputy Chancery Clerk Cindy Ginn to seek proposals from other firms.
• Approved purchase of a computer for $1,279.
• Declined to continue membership in the National Association of Counties.