Shortly after the convening for the first official meeting of the newly elected Lauderdale County board of supervisors, District 5 supervisor Ray Boswell was elected president of the board by a 3-2 vote, with District 3 supervisor Craig Hitt and District 4 supervisor Joe Norwood opposing.
Over the next year as board president, Boswell said he plans to take a regional approach toward economic development.
"We'll be working our board within the next month or so trying to communicate and try to set up some communities to meet all of our fellow board members in east Mississippi and west Alabama," said Boswell.
Although all of the board members agree about the need for economic development, the differences surface when it comes to the approach.
Early in the meeting, things did get a little heated when Boswell insisted that the board evaluate and approved individually each of the seven planned business trips for supervisors.
"I have to vote against unnecessary spending," said Boswell.
"I'd like to know what trips on here that you think are unnecessary?" said Norwood.
One of the trips that received the most debate was to the International Shopping Center Convention, which will be held in May in Las Vegas.
"I've never been against any trip that I thought was necessary that brought anything back to Lauderdale County," said Boswell. "I've never had any board members to come back and report to me about anything."
"You look at the new mall, that came from there, with the efforts from the city going out there recruiting developers to come in and develop things here," Norwood said. "You look at the Wal-Mart, the Super Wal-Marts and the Lowe's. You look at the new Meridian Crossing, all of those. And I just think those things are very important."
Ultimately supervisors Hank Florey and Hitt agreed when it came to the Nevada trip and the board approved the funding for it, along with four out of the remaining six other planned business trips.
"Even though we are a member of the Mississippi Association of Supervisors we voted today not to go to our own annual conference. That is ridiculous," said Norwood.
"That business on the Lauderdale County board of supervisors will not be business as usual," said Boswell. "We will be busy. "We will try to accomplish something."
The panel has two new members. Florey replaced Eddie Harper in District 1. Harper did not seek re-election. Wayman Newell defeated Jimmie Smith for the District 2 seat. Board members Hitt, Norwood, and Boswell are returning incumbents..
Among other items of business, the board retained the law firm of Bourdeaux and Jones as its legal counsel.