WALTHALL — Webster County’s circuit clerk-elect will be assuming that office earlier than planned.
Circuit Clerk Sherry Henderson is not running for another term in this year’s elections. Deputy Circuit Clerk Wanda Robinson was the only person who qualified as a candidate for circuit clerk and therefore was scheduled to take office in January.
Henderson advised the Board of Supervisors in a June 13 letter that she would be retiring as of June 30 from her position of circuit clerk.
However, she noted that her deputy, Nicole Hernandez, was due to have a baby at any time and she needed to remain as clerk until Hernandez returns from maternity leave around the first of September.
“This will avoid the 90-day rule and ensure that Clerk-elect Wanda Robinson is not preparing for the Webster County election primaries to be held August 8 and 9 without help,” Henderson wrote. “Upon retiring June 30, I will draw a percentage of my annual salary until Mrs. Hernandez returns and then I will fully retire at that date.”
Therefore, Henderson is still circuit clerk until Sept. 1 and Robinson will take office when she fully retires. In Mississippi, if more than 90 days are left on a term of office at the time it becomes vacant, a special election is required to fill the vacancy.
Henderson’s letter is referred to in the June 19 minutes of the Board of Supervisors and is included as an exhibit.
Meeting minutes show the Board of Supervisors also handled these matters on the respective dates:
June 5 Meeting
In addition to previously reported business on June 5, the board voted that date to:
• hire Cain Wooten and Stephen Pepper as summer employees for District 2, effective June 1.
• go onto the Virginia Sugg property with county employees and equipment to remove dirt to fill an abandoned well.
• accept the monthly report of Dan Burchfield, who is the county’s representative on the Golden Triangle Regional Solid Waste Management Authority’s Executive Committee.
June 19 Meeting
Architect Belinda Stewart gave an update to the progress of the jail project plans on June 19.
Joyce Tucker with Safe Haven of Columbus addressed the board explaining what services Safe Haven provides and to whom. She also turned in a budget request for the upcoming 2023-24 budget.
The board voted to enter into a contract with Data Systems Management for Fiscal Year 2023-24. The contracts included chancery and tax office and Justice Court for the rate of $2,449 a month.
The board authorized County Engineer Karl Grubb to advertise for bids for the 2023 Road Improvement Project for Center Road. Bids will be opened July 31.
June 30 Meeting
On June 30, the board voted to sign a revised copy of the order setting forth the proposed State Aid projects for the period between Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2023. The order was originally signed on March 6.
The board voted to instruct and allow the president and clerk to sign audit documents for the year ending Sept. 30, 2022, on behalf of the county.
Supervisors approved the attendance of Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Andrew Banks at Gracie University for Gracie Survival Tactics Level 1 Certification in North Little Rock, Ark. He will attend the certification from Sept. 4-9 and the cost to the county will be $1,200.
July 3 Meeting
Tax Assessor-Collector Barbara Gore presented the board the 2023 tax roll on July 3, which the board accepted.
“It’s pretty much a wash from last year’s (assessed valuation of taxable property),” she told the board. Gore said the county’s real value was down because the state had lower agricultural use values.
It was ordered that the board would immediately proceed to equalize the rolls; any objections must be filed with the chancery clerk by Aug. 7. A related public notice was published July 7 in the Progress-Times.
After meeting with Deputy EMA Director Tom Booth, the board voted to accept a Homeland Security grant of $50,246 for 25 handheld MSWIN radios; no match is required. The Mississippi Wireless Information Network is a secure digital radio system that allows emergency responders to communicate with each other statewide.
Tim Heard, computer systems analyst with the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District, addressed the board about cybersecurity, which is the practice of protecting systems, networks and programs from digital attacks. Board President Pat Cummings had requested that he meet with supervisors after hearing the issue discussed during the Mississippi Association of Supervisors’ annual convention.
Heard said any kind of electronic equipment is susceptible to a cyberattack, or an attempt by hackers to damage or destroy a computer network or system. This includes malware and spam being loaded into cellphones via the internet to access data.
Heard noted that all computers come with antivirus software that should be kept updated. He also said the first line of defense is a secure firewall, which is a network security device that monitors and filters incoming and outgoing network traffic. According to the discussion, the county does have a firewall through Cisco Systems.
“The only way to access it is to come inside the building,” Heard said.
Beyond that, he said the best protection is each individual employee monitoring their computers for slowing down, pop-ups and ransomware email. In such instances, he said the first thing they should do is unplug their computer. Other tips he gave regarding county-issued computers and cell phones were to have a good backup, not play games on/surf the internet and perform due diligence on the county’s website.
Also on July 3, the board voted to:
• accept the grand jury report dated June 19.
• enter into a contract with North Mississippi EMS Authority for Fiscal Year 2023-24.
• renew the support agreements between Delta Computer Systems and the county for both chancery and circuit offices for Fiscal Year 2023-24.
• advertise three sheriff’s vehicles for sale by posting.