The Leflore County Board of Supervisors has decided, at least for now, to not follow the recommendation of its building inspector, tax assessor and attorney and order a resident to remove a shed in which she had been living.

In a marathon meeting lasting nearly three hours Monday, the supervisors heard from county Building Inspector Victor Stokes about the portable building owned and formerly occupied by Regina Harper off County Road 138 outside of Itta Bena.

Stokes showed the board a sticker placed on other portable buildings such as the one Harper had moved to an otherwise empty piece of property she owns. The sticker states clearly the buildings

“are not intended for residential use.” He argued that the buildings could not be tied down to prevent being blown over in windstorms and hadn’t been constructed or inspected as places to live.

Harper had first moved the portable building near the roadway on her property and operated it as a flea market store until a neighbor complained and the county shut it down. After Harper began living in the building, the neighbor complained again, and the county ordered Harper to cease and desist.

She told the board she hired contractors to put in electrical service and water and sewer, although Stokes said the county didn’t issue permits for the work.

Stokes also said portable buildings are allowed on sites when they are “accessory buildings to a primary structure,” commonly used for such things as gardening equipment in the yard of a residence. But Stokes said Harper has no main building on the property.

He also said that she had added two more, smaller sheds, also without permits. Harper said she planned to build them all into a house.

Board President Wayne Self, whose district includes Itta Bena, said he had been called by the Health Department inspector Monday and told the shed was not supposed to have been hooked up to Itta Bena’s water system or allowed a septic system on that property.

Tax Assessor Leroy Ware, whose office issued the permit that allowed Harper to put a shed on the property, said, “It was a mistake on our office. We shouldn’t have given her a permit to put it there without a primary structure.”

Board Attorney Joyce Chiles said Harper was in violation of having work done without permits or the Health Department OK, and she agreed with Stokes and Ware that the building should be removed from the property.

Despite the advice of those three, however, Self referred Harper to the Health Department, reminding her she can’t use the shed as a living quarters.

“Once you start allowing that to exist, ... you’re creating problems for Mr. Ware and me,” Stokes said.

The board also put off a decision on one of the county’s biggest garbage fee scofflaws. It opted to take a couple more weeks to review its policies on the operation of the solid waste department.

That followed Chiles’ reading of a letter from the Attorney General’s Office that said, “A county can’t allow motor vehicle tags to be issued to the owner unless all delinquent garbage collection fees have been paid.”

At issue was the bill racked up by Janie Jones, 305 Stevenson Trail Court, Itta Bena, totaling more than $2,150 in unpaid garbage collection fees. At $8.50 a month, that’s more than 21 years of unpaid bills.

Jones claimed she never received a bill because she didn’t have a mailing address until recently. She also claimed she was never issued a garbage cart. She said the mother of her boyfriend was getting the bills and allowing them to pile up until they broke up.

Jones didn’t say why she never inquired about garbage service or collection fees. She had been issued car tags every year until last month when she was told she’d have to square up with the county on the unpaid fees before she could legally drive her car again.

Chiles told her the county presumes every resident to be a generator of solid waste whether they have a garbage cart or not.

Supervisors seemed reluctant to tell Jones to pay up if she wanted her tags. District 3 Supervisor Anjuan Brown said the policy doesn’t consider what to do if the resident doesn’t receive a bill.

In other business:

• The board told Ulysses Kelly to work with Chancery Clerk Christine Lymon to see if there is money available for the county to sponsor a summer program Kelly ran last year teaching students about robotics and computer programming. Kelly, who is running for District 5 supervisor, had put in a request last August for money from the board in the current budget, but supervisors chose not to fund it.

• The county will consult with the city over the cost of placing a phone in its elevator. The courthouse elevator is currently in violation of state law because it doesn’t have a phone system that is compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act and hooked up to a line monitored 24 hours a day. The county received a $24,000 estimate to install such a phone.

• The board rescheduled a joint meeting with the Greenwood City Council to hear from the Greenwood Leflore Hospital Board and administration about their plans to correct the hospital’s financial situation. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 18 at 4 p.m.

• The board will advertise for bids for the purchase of eight high-capacity pumps that would be situated in Glendale, at North Court and in Browning to help alleviate flooding situations.

• Contact Gavin Maliska at 581-7235 or gmaliska@gwcommonwealth.com.

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