County newcomer Arnold undecided on appointments

Published 11:43 am Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fresh off an unsuccessful call for Warren County supervisors to wait until a new board is seated to appoint members of other boards it oversees, District 1 Supervisor-elect John Arnold is content to study whom he’ll support for four key positions to be considered when the board meets Jan. 3.

“I’m getting a feel for what I need to do,” Arnold said. “I’ve done my research but I don’t have enough information to make a decision (before Jan. 3). But, I will have one by then.”

Arnold, 57, will be sworn in Dec. 29 alongside the four current supervisors, all of whom were re-elected in this year’s elections, and other county-level officials. On Monday, the board voted 3-2 to retain the chairman and appoint a new member of the Warren County Port Commission after Arnold spoke to oppose the move. Arnold defeated incumbent David McDonald in the Republican primary and two independents in the Nov. 8 general election.

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Of 11 positions under the board’s purview, the jobs of county administrator, attorney, engineer and Road Department manager are likeliest to be addressed formally, Board President Richard George said. Procedural titles of president and vice-president of the board also will be on the agenda.

Heads of other departments hired by the board, which include Emergency Management, Building Permits, Purchasing, Accounting, Information Technology, Buildings and Grounds and Fire Coordinator haven’t received the same attention during inaugural meetings in past years, an arrangement that shouldn’t change this year, George said.

As of Wednesday, supervisors had no plans to talk about the positions in a formal setting before votes are cast.

“There’s nothing planned at this point,” George said.

County Administrator John Smith was first appointed in 2005 after 18 years in the City of Vicksburg’s auditing department. The position manages county finances and compiles the operating budget. The position was not formally reappointed earlier this year, but did appear on inaugural agendas in 2009 and 2010.

Randy Sherard, the board’s attorney, was appointed in 2009 after Mayor Paul Winfield, then the board’s counsel, announced his run for the mayor’s office. Sherard also held the position from 1992 to 2005. The office is paid as an independent contractor and has generated the split votes at re-appointment time most often among the board-chosen posts. Sherard was reappointed 4-1 to start this year.

Richard Winans has managed the Road Department since 2005 and John McKee, of ABMB Engineers, has been county engineer since 1998.