Ethics Questions Raised in Newton Controversy

By: Stephen Bowers Email
By: Stephen Bowers Email

The Newton Fire Department started as a volunteer organization in which staff voted for the fire chief.

That custom continued after full-time firefighters were mixed with the volunteers, pending approval of the Newton Board of Aldermen.

Buster Bounds was voted out earlier this year, and Donny Collins was selected to be chief. Two weeks ago, Bounds resigned.

The problem is Collins works at the Newton Fire Department, along with his two brothers, his cousin, and his father.

"It puts pressure on the city as well as the fire department," said Newton Mayor David Carr. "And I know it's tough on the Collins family, because they've got several employees within the fire department."

Now the Mississippi Ethics Commission is involved.

"They recommended that he not supervise his brothers in our situation," said Carr. "The board felt like they did not have enough time to study it or to take a look at it and did not want to make a rash decision, which I think was wise on that. And upon legal counsel, we felt like somebody should be put in as an interim fire chief to protect the city, as well as Donny Collins."

Now Mayor Carr is the acting fire chief until the board of aldermen makes a final decision.

Carr says a decision likely will not be made on this issue until the Jan. 5 board of aldermen meeting at the earliest. He says either way the decision goes, there are likely to be some problems.

"We don't have anybody lined up to jump in," said the mayor. "After naming him chief two weeks ago, to pull him back out, it's not a good situation. We're just sort of in limbo right now."

That's only one problem. If the town decides to keep Collins as chief there could be other issues.

"The pressure is put on the chief," Carr said.

In fact, any complaints that make it to the ethics commission about favoritism could result in fines against the fire chief.

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  • by Citizen#1 Location: Newton on Jan 4, 2010 at 10:21 AM
    I agree totally with Anonymous' last post. Don't believe what the press is saying... the ethnic commission report did not say that Donny couldn't be in that position, it said it was an opinion. This will not only hurt the city of Newton, but other departments in the state will be affected. I do ask to board members please do not go hire someone off the streets. We got a great bunch of guys left on the dept, we don't need to lose them too.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 4, 2010 at 05:09 AM
    folks.... the Ethics Commission can't say he can or can't do it.... they don't make the laws...they give an opinion....go to any Fire Dept around the State or United States, and you'll see grandfathers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, brothers, cousins, or whatever , all working together and under the supervision of one another. Firefighting is a traditional career. just like being a cop. The Cheif of Philadelphia Fire Dept ( Philadelphia ,MS) has his brother working for him and he's a Captain, so the Ethics Commission looked over all these other Fire Depts and not Newton , I don't think so...cause it's not a law saying it can't be done !!!! It's just someone else trying to find a way to get someone's/ or his own job back. huh, Mr Mayor ??
  • by Folks Location: Mississippi on Jan 1, 2010 at 05:48 PM
    Read all the praise for Donny and Buster, pros and cons. The one fact that everyone is overlooking is that the Ethics Commission says you can't do this. Donny can not supervise, promote or disipline his kinfolk who are full time fireman for Newton. This is involation of the Nepotism laws of the State. The employees of the city of Newton are included in this law. It not the boards decision anymore. They must follow the law and the Fire Department and its members must abide by the law. The best move now is to move on and select a full time chief from outside the department. Someone with no ties to anyone in the department and willing to make the tough decision needed to end the turmoil that has struck the department.
  • by citizen Location: newton on Dec 29, 2009 at 07:01 AM
    with the new year coming, i hope everyone and the board of newton, looks at this with the eyes of a's not about mr bounds not being a good person,he is a wonderful man. it's about who is the best man for this job and for the well being of this takes a special person to do all the work donny collins does.he has 6 kids and a wife and he works hard to take care of his family.a fireman is very special,they put their lives on the line for you and your all need to go to the board and tell them this.we need donny collins in our fire dept. please don't let him leave. our town will be hurt.
  • by Anonymous2 Location: Newton on Dec 28, 2009 at 11:30 AM
    Everyone is afraid to call this what it really is. The city board has been trying to advance it's racist agenda for some time now. They've been after Buster's job for several months now. The fire dept just helped them get rid of one of his jobs. Donny will not be chief because they have intentions of replacing him with a black chief. Just watch and see. Then they will replace Buster's public works director job with a black. Then it will be Jay Powell's turn. In my opinion, the whole city board and mayor needs to be replaced with someone who actually cares about Newton and not a bunch of clowns like we have now!
  • by Anonymous on Dec 25, 2009 at 06:06 PM
    all our hearts go out to Mr Bounds and his family and we all wish him a speedy recovery... it's not about Mr Bounds not being a good person at all, it's about him not being the Chief he needed to be, it was time for a change and Donny was the man, he's been doing the Chief's (Buster's) job for years now, Mr Bound's had more interest in Public Works and Water Department matters, and not Fire Dept matters..the Fire Dept needed someone who would fight and ask for things the Fire Dept needed and Mr Bounds just wasn't doing that .. hard to fight a house fire when a fire truck is broke down and no one would ask the Board to get it fixed, but every employee for the Water Dept has a truck, or new trucks with a winch .. but when you mention getting a fire truck fixed, it's always "there's no money in the budget"...
  • by Eat Smoke Drink Firewater Location: Newton on Dec 23, 2009 at 02:23 PM
    Citizen #1, I don't know how old you are but that department evolved into what it is by hard _______ work by some old folks you probably don't even know! It started 25 or 30 years ago by hard nosed dedicated people,working out of a station that held more water in the floor than all your trucks will hold now. I don't take sides because this has nothing to do with me. Find some OLD Pictures around the station and look these people up and thank them for what you have now. Sorry to be smart but it didn,t just start getting good 10 years ago.
  • by Citizen#1 Location: Newton on Dec 22, 2009 at 11:51 PM
    OK! Enough is enough! I myself is one of the volunteers who serve as a firefighter for the town of Newton. For years, we have voted for who we thought was the best person for the job as chief. Chief Buster Bounds was an outstanding chief. I have the up-most respect for Dr. Jerry "Buster" Bounds, and it hurts my heart that he is in the hospital suffering from a stroke right now. He put our department up on a plateau, but that plateau is starting to slope. He had someone behind the curtains that really made this department function. His name is Donny Collins! He's the one who actually made this department what it is today, and he can make this dept. even better. Yes, he does have relatives in the department who work for him, but he's been supervising them for over seven years now. (By the way, Jay shaved the beard and he is one of the best firefighters on the force. If you want someone to charge into your burning house and pull your children or you to safety, Jay is your man!)
  • by laid back Location: Newton on Dec 22, 2009 at 07:31 PM
    what is going on
  • by citizen2 Location: Newton on Dec 22, 2009 at 11:28 AM
    Citizen. If you look at my post and take time to read it, I stated that Donny would make a good chief. I like Jay also. Nothing wrong with long hair and a beard. Just can't get a good seal on air pack mask. If all of the firemen wanted to grow a beard and have long hair, then no one would be able to adequately put on an air pack and be safe to enter a burning house. Safety should not be overlooked whether it's your family or not! If you're chief, then you got to make that call for the safety of all whether they are your family or not. As you should know, Chief Vance had to make that decision and did so regaurdless of family ties!
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