Newton Dealing with Water Department Woes

A controversy has surfaced in Newton over water billing and the employees in that department.

Those employees walked off the job Wednesday in anger over their working conditions.

A special called meeting of the board of aldermen was held Thursday because of that walk-off.

Newton Public Works director Jerry Bounds spent much of the meeting defending his support for almost all workers who left out of frustration over what they call deplorable working conditions.

Following the board's regular meeting Tuesday, when action was discussed but not actually taken to address the concerns, all but three workers within the department decided to take the day off as a vacation day.

Public Works director Jerry Bounds and Newton Mayor David Carr supported this. However, Mayor Pro-Tem Eric McCalphia, who helped call Thursday's special meeting, says this was the wrong way to handle the situation.

"You never let your entire department off," said McCalphia. "What if there's an emergency or something?"

"Probably the only thing that wasn't handled is that I probably should've informed the board about it," said Carr.

Following an executive session the board passed a measure that, in the future, will not allow the majority of a department to take off from work other than on regular holidays.

The public works building is located in an old Coca-Cola facility. The employees complained that the meeting room has fungus and mold growing from the floor and leaking in offices and areas for supplies.

Workers say so much water leaks in the men's room when it rains that it reaches up to the ankles.

The board of aldermen is looking at options for a different facility, a small trailer or other housing. Board members say action on this will likely be taken at the next meeting Aug. 18.

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  • by mm Location: Newton on Aug 8, 2009 at 12:44 PM
    The board acted like they were all concerned about these conditions. All of them have been on the board for at least 4 years. Most of them a lot more than 4. Why haven't they been inspecting city property. why haven't they already done something about this. One of the employees involved stated that he had worked for the past 3 public directors and the board had been notified by all 3 about these working conditions. Why didn't they get something started about improving these conditions when they all of a sudden realized that these men were working in a health hazard? all these men have a good law suit because they are being allowed to go back into these conditions. Therefore dr Bounds was right in telling them if they went in then it would be at their own risk. This silly board all needs to be voted out, espicially mr. McAlphia, for being ignorant. This was just an attempt to get rid of Dr Bounds because he is white. They've already tried to get rid of the white school super for no caus.
  • by Mr X Location: Newton on Aug 8, 2009 at 05:53 AM
    these conditions were an issue long before Public Works Director Jerry Bounds. Nothing ever came up about the conditions when ex-Public Works Director Daryl Ford was in charge. And the same employees working for Mr Bounds was working for Mr Ford
  • by jay Location: byrd on Aug 7, 2009 at 05:30 PM
    One acronym OHSA!!! Call em they'll get you the help you're looking for.....
  • by Concerned Citizen Location: Newton MS on Aug 7, 2009 at 12:03 PM
    More citizens of Newton need to attend these Board of Alderman meetings, to actually see the way the business matters of the town are handled. The large crowd at this special called meeting was great, but this needs to be all the time. Citizens need to participate more in the City government business, and therefore exercise their right to express their ideas, not just a few who are the sitting board of alderman. Cities are for all citizens, not just a chosen few.
  • by BJ Location: Neshoba on Aug 6, 2009 at 06:45 PM
    Their work conditions are disgusting. I don't blame them for taking vacation. If the board has a problem maybe they should switch work places with them.
  • by Jean Location: Meridian on Aug 6, 2009 at 04:10 PM
    I have seen outhouses that looked better than this atrocious excuse for a workplace. The employees should file a complaint with the state or federal government, about unhealthy working conditions and look into a class action lawsuit.
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