Greene Commission discusses Branch Heights

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 30, 2005

EUTAW-Who is responsible for Branch Heights road repairs? Since the area was placed under the City of Eutaw this question has been posed over and over again. Technically, the city has taken over the area in regards to law enforcement and several other capacities. However, a housing authority board still exists under the county.

Greene County Commission Chairman Chip Beeker said they had been asked to do away with the board, but no action had been taken as of Thursday morning.

“What we were asked to do was to take action on the board for the Greene County Housing authority,” Beeker said. “We have been asked to disolve it and to do away with our part of it, but we have not had an action on it yet.”

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The problem facing the commission is the board does not want to be dissolved. Beeker said he had met with the current board and they had no desire to step down from their post.

“I talked to some of the board members and they did not sound to me like they would like to see this board dissolved,” Beeker said. “They said they did want to have the board and they wanted us to appoint members to the board. It would be my position to discuss what we could do.”

As for who would serve, Beeker said the commission had the authority to appoint members.

“The body can put on the board whoever the body votes to put on the board,” Beeker said. “I spoke to the attorney with the ACCA and talked about those things and she said that can in fact happen. If the body votes it up or votes it down, you can have that.”

Attorney LaTasha A. Meadows said this was the case, but there could be exceptions. She also said the only way to do away with the board was for the members to say they no longer wished to serve.

“The only way to dissolve the board is for the board to dissolve itself,” Meadows said. “The commission can appoint who they want to on the board except for county employees. That is usually the way the law works.”

Commissioner Donald Means said the situation created a great deal of confusion. Means said he did not see how they could turn the area over to the city and still have a board.

“My concern is how do we go about appointing a board when it is my understanding that we are going to have one board to service everything in the city,” Means said. “I understood it would go to the city and the city would serve it. I thought those were the understandings that everybody had from the beginning.”

Means said the appointment of a board seemed to contradict their previous policy of cutting ties.

“We always said the roads and everything in Branch Heights did not belong to us, it belonged to someone else,” Means said. “How can they take the roads over in a community when they do not have control of the board?”

Despite the arguments the point still stood that the board would have to dissolve itself. Beeker said they seemed to have no intentions of doing so,

“They did not do that,” Beeker said. “They said we want to be back on this board. They said we want to be active on this board.”

Commissioner William Johnson was also noticeably disturbed by the thought of appointing another board.

“I thought we wanted to get out from under Branch Heights so they could do what they needed to do to get their roads fixed,” Johnson said. “Once the city took that over we were supposed to throw out hands up and say we were through.”

Johnson said the appointment of a board created confusion about whose responsibility the are would become.

“If we appoint a board who is going to have jurisdiction?” Johnson asked. “Is it going to be a board we appoint or a board the city appoints? I don’t see any reason for this.”

Johnson felt having the area under the county’s control was not fair.

“We have sat back and let them have potholes all over their roads,” Johnson said. “We don’t need to change our minds. I want to know who will have jurisdiction over those roads once we put a board together.”

Despite the arguments, the commission’s hands are tied as long as the board chooses to remain in existence.