By John Mott Coffey, with News Mississippi affiliate WQNZ
NATCHEZ, Miss.–The Adams County Board of Supervisors on Monday raised the pay for physicians, attorneys and judges involved in lunacy court hearings that determine whether someone should be declared mentally ill and committed to a psychiatric facility.
The supervisors increased the pay rate by $25 after being told the court is having a hard time finding attorneys and physicians willing to take on these special cases. Attorneys will be paid $175 per hearing while doctors and judges are to receive $200. Board attorney Scott Slover said lawyers in Adams County in general charge about $200 to $250 per hour.
The Board of Supervisors on Monday also joined McLaurin school students in giving the pledge to the American and Mississippi flags. Students normally visit board meetings to pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag, but Monday was the first time for the state flag — the controversial banner Mississippi in 2001 attempted to redesign because it contains the Confederate emblem.
Grennell said a state flag should be placed in the Adams County boardroom with the U.S. and Adams County flags. While the Rebel emblem in the flag’s corner is considered offensive by some, Grennell said it’s a part of Mississippi’s official banner that should be accepted. In a 2001 referendum, Mississippi voters overwhelmingly approved the old flag instead of an alternative without the stars and bars.
Grennell, who’s been on the county board for 17 years, said Monday he hadn’t noticed the state flag was not in the boardroom. It does fly at the Adams County Courthouse. Giving the state flag pledge was initiated by the students and their school sponsors, Grennell said.
The Mississippi flag is not standing in the Natchez Board of Aldermen’s chambers, which does have the American, Natchez and Spanish flags displayed. Natchez was once a Spanish settlement. The Natchez board voted several years ago not to have the state flag where it meets and, in 2011, then-Natchez Mayor Jake Middleton ordered it be taken down when it briefly flew at the Natchez Police Department, according to news reports at that time.