Supervisors Hear Complaint

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

Kerry Clay of Hattiesburg told Lauderdale County supervisors Thursday a county road crew had allegedly trespassed on property he owns in Lauderdale County.

Clay charged they had taken a fence down, bulldozed 120 feet of his land and taken away topsoil.

County engineer Neal Carson said they thought they had permission from a family member to do the drainage project.

"Do you know who owns that property that you got on?" asked Clay. "My family members don't own that property. I own it. They don't have permission to give you to do anything. No family member has the right to speak for me. I own that property."

Clay then presented a bill for monies to correct the damage. NewsCenter 11 requested a copy of the bill as a matter of public record but board attorney Michael Strahan refused.

"At this point I think it is considered litigation potential because he's presented it," said Strahan. "I believe he presented it directly to me as county board attorney."

But the meeting tape shows Strahan was in error.

"I have a claim, a formal complaint and a claim, an invoice that I want to submit to you today," said Clay. "I understand that legally that's what we have to do. I understand you can't do any action without a written request because of the audit department. I understand that and I'd like to leave that with you all."

Clay's bill was then passed around to the board. NewsCenter 11 asked board president Craig Hitt to instruct the attorney to make the sheet available.

"We'll take that request and we'll talk with the attorney and go with his recommendation," said Hitt.

Later Strahan came to NewsCenter 11 and viewed the tape. He conceded he had been mistaken but stood by his earlier position not to make Clay's bill available to the media.


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