Last Updated: Sep 12th, 2013 - 09:06:29


Tensions beginning to show at SCEDP
By Jody O'Hara
Sep 12, 2013, 09:05

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Things became a bit testy at Monday's meeting of the Board of Directors of the Stone County Economic Development Partnership.
The question arose during the meeting about public use of the Historic Wiggins Depot.
The SCEDP leases the depot from the city and reserves use of the building to itself.
"We're working on a policy and procedures manual and that will be addressed as part of that," said Executive Director Mike Turner.
The response prompted board member Russell Hatten to ask how long the manual would take.
"It depends on how much you want to bite off; it's an elephant," Turner replied. "You want personnel? Easy. You want depot usage? Easy.
"You want comprehensive; you're going to have to go back to when you were created."
Hatten said it seemed as though everything was taking too much time to accomplish.
"This board passes things and it never gets done," he said.
Board Chairwoman Laura Owen asked Hatten for specifics.
"What are you referring to?" she asked.
Hatten said his statement hadn't been specific, but that it seemed a lot of projects were taking entirely too long.
"The qualifications on the banking; the qualifications for the engineer; the qualifications for the attorney; the website has been down for two or three months and looks like it may be down for several more," Hatten said in a separate interview. "I could just go on and on about things we've talked about and it seems like that's all we do is talk."
Hatten held himself as responsible as any other board member.
"I'm disturbed with myself," he said.
Turner offered one reason why some efforts seemed to be taking a long time.
"The attorney requested an Attorney General's opinion and that opinion said we have to function as a government entity and that's what we did," he said. "When you have to advertise and follow the same procedures as a Board of Supervisors or a Board of Aldermen, things are going to take longer."
Later in the meeting, during Stone County Board of Supervisors President Scott Strickland's presentation of his county report, the matter of a need for additional workers was raised.
Turner and Executive Secretary Lisa Dickens have been attempting to organize years of files which have no apparent system of organization presently.
"We've got files (the last two directors) kept and kept separately," Turner said. "We've got to go through each one, determine if it should be kept, thrown out, filed in a different location; all of this takes and incredible amount of time."
One complaint seemed to be that Dickens had to dedicate too much time to Chamber matters, which takes away from SCEDP business.
Strickland asked how much time she spent on Chamber business.
After consideration she said about 25 percent of her work week was dedicated to the Chamber.
Turner said he was attempting to get interns from the University of Southern Mississippi school of economic development.
He said more manpoer was needed.
"We've run this thing for years with two people," said former Chairman Jeffry Peters.
That prompted a quick reply from Owen.
"And look what happened," she said.
Board member Porter Burke seemed to diffuse the situation by suggesting the board and the executive staff should just get on with business.
""We need to get the job done and move on," he said.


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