NATCHEZ, Miss. – Adams County supervisors are discouraging people driving near the rising Mississippi River in the port area. By John Mott CoffeyWith the river now at flood stage and predicted to be at a near-record highJan. 17, it could be too dangerous for motorists to travel on the road to the Natchez-Adams County Port and the U.S. Coast Guard station, said county board President Mike Lazarus.
“I don’t want to harass people, but we don’t want them down there,” Lazarus said. “If they don’t work over there, we don’t need a bunch of sightseers.”
The board on Monday did agree to close the public boat ramp by the river port and low-lying rural roads south and north of Natchez.
The Mississippi River at Natchez reached flood stage – 48 feet – on Saturday and rose past 49.5 feet on Monday, according to the National Weather Service. It’s expected to crest at 59 feet in two weeks. The highest in recorded history was 61.9 feet in 2011.
The Adams County Board of Supervisors held its first meeting of the new term Monday without the one who led it the past 13 years. With Darryl Grennell no longer on the board after not running for re-election last year, Lazarus formally took over as board president. His four colleagues agreed to tap the county’s longest-serving supervisor with eight years’ experience as their leader.
Lazarus acknowledged Grennell and his nearly two decades experience will be missed. County board meetings with Lazarus presiding “might not go as smoothly at first, but hopefully it’ll get better,” he said.
While county officials officially began their new four-year terms Monday, Adams County government will be mostly run by the same people with a couple of exceptions. Ricky Gray is the new county supervisor taking the District 4 seat Grennell occupied for 18 years. Also attending her first county board meeting in office was Brandi Lewis, who succeeded Tommy O’Beirne as chancery clerk. He retired at the turn of the new year after serving as clerk since 1988.
The board reappointed Joe Murray as county administrator. He lost to Lewis in last year’s election for chancery clerk. Scott Slover was reappointed as board attorney. Robbie Dollar was reappointed county road manager as was Jim Marlow as county engineer.
Supervisors on Monday did nominate people to replace Tim Blalock on the Natchez-Adams School District board. His term expires in February. Being considered for his seat are former Natchez mayor Phillip West, Barney Schoby Jr., Michelle Payne, Joey Mitchell, Jerry Ford and Clarena Jones.
Supervisors said they’ll interview nominees later this month and vote for one to take Blalock’s seat.
County supervisors have been highly critical of how the local schools are run and tried last year to push Blalock off the five-member board, but he declined to resign. He’s currently school board president.
The board also discussed its oversight of the Natchez-Adams County Port, which is part of county government but run by a commission appointed by supervisors. Lazarus said he’s trying to get port officials to provide records of expenses. He said he’s alarmed about large bills for mechanical work.