County might alter fire coordinator postChange could come after Worthy’s retirement this month

Published 11:43 am Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Whether the job of coordinating fire response and managing garbage pickup outside Vicksburg will rest with a single person after May 31 was to be on the table today as supervisors prepare to replace Kelly Worthy, who retires that day after more than 20 years as boss of Warren County’s six volunteer fire departments.

Since 1993, the coordinator’s job also has been environmental officer, the person who tracks the county’s list of residents who pay a surcharge on garbage bills to stay in compliance with rubbish disposal mandates from the state Department of Environmental Quality. Also, the environmental officer handles the local side of anti-dumping efforts in the community, such as annual events at which residents drop off old appliances, unusable tires and other materials for proper disposal.

In February, Worthy filed papers to retire May 31. Once advertised, it’s a job that will be offered internally, in keeping with the hiring policy for posts directly answerable to the Board of Supervisors, then opened to the general public. Supervisors have said the current job’s full scope will be under review.

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“We really need to pore over that job description,” District 5 Supervisor Richard George said during a few minutes of open discussion about the pending vacancy during the board’s informal meeting last week. George said the fire coordinator duties have “caused field work for waste (disposal) to be hindered significantly.”

The county’s volunteer fire coordinator is deputized to investigate arson cases, though the sheriff’s department typically leads the start of such cases on site. On the sanitation side, current waste ordinance stipulates all non-city residents contract with private firms on their own for garbage pickup. A $1.25 monthly surcharge added to bills funds the county’s costs for enforcing solid waste disposal requirements by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. Three corporate haulers and three family-run businesses hold active permits to pick up residential and commercial garbage in the county.

In the past half-decade, as the board struggled more and more to keep the family haulers compliant, Worthy traveled to remote parts of the county to check addresses on the ground to compare what an internal database showed.

About 5,500 people in non-municipal Warren County have garbage picked up regularly by three permitted family-run operations and three corporate haulers. Waste Management has the largest clientele, with about 4,100 customers. This year, county officials have voiced strong support for a single hauler to handle all of non-municipal Warren County, but no formal request for proposals has been made.

In general, volunteer fire crews in the Culkin, Fisher Ferry, Bovina, Eagle Lake, LeTourneau and Northeast departments work in other professions. The current force is 85 to 100, depending on the time of year. If the eventual decision is to keep both titles, the board should keep both jobs in mind as it talks through it for a month, District 2 Supervisor William Banks said.

“Environmental service is essential,” he said.