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Union County Supervisors’ meeting, January 25, 2016

Union County Tax Collector and Assessor Randy Dunham, Chief Deputy Sheriff Johnny Bell and 911 Coordinator Mildred Church are shown immediately after the Union County Board of Supervisors' meeting. These and several other county officials generally attend county board meetings.

The Union County Board of Supervisors’ meetings may not be the most efficient I have ever witnessed, but they are certainly close.

The Supervisors took just 17 minutes to work through a 15-item agenda at its Monday, January 25th meeting. Last week’s county board meeting took only 31 minutes.

In a previous life I worked for a man named John Wesley Rex, who ran the best business meetings I have ever attended. Every Monday morning the seven department heads reporting to John attended his once-a-week meeting. He would have his agenda, neatly handwritten on a single sheet of paper.

We all knew to stick to his agenda, to not stray off the topic, to not “go wandering around in the cane.” Rex’s  meetings rarely ran longer than five minutes. If somebody did wander off the agenda, making speeches or raising topics not on his agenda, he would say simply, “You need to call your own meeting. What you’re talking about is not on my agenda.” When he’d worked through his agenda, Rex would rap the table with his knuckles one time, stand up and say, “Let’s get to work,” and he’d walk out of the conference room.

[The company had two conference rooms on the premises. One was a large room with in-direct lighting, a beautiful 15-foot walnut conference table, 10 massive overstuffed, leather-covered chairs, and expensive original art on the walls. The other conference room was small, had harsh fluorescent lights,  an 8-foot plastic-topped table, 10 hard straight-backed steel chairs and unadorned walls. You’ve already guessed in which room John Rex called his meetings.]

The 15 items on the Union County board’s Monday meeting included:

–Michael Brown, manager of the local branch of Renasant Bank thanked the board for allowing Renasant to be a county depository bank since 2009. Brown said his bank had served New Albany for 111 years and was previously known as Peoples Bank.

–Approved the employment of Scotty Wiginton as road manager. Also approved a surety bond and take-home vehicle for Wiginton.

This 2014 photograph shows the southern terminus of the Ripley & New Albany Railroad in downtown New Albany

This 2014 photograph shows the southern terminus of the Ripley & New Albany Railroad in downtown New Albany

–Approved paying $2,239.79 to replenish the P.I.P.E. Fund at the Sheriff’s Department. The P.I.P.E. fund money comes from proceeds of the sale of assets seized in criminal convictions and is used to pay confidential informants.

–Approved payment from grant funds for work on the tracks of the Ripley & New Albany Railroad. The grant money comes from the federal government and is used for rail and bridge maintenance and replacement for short line railroads. The Ripley & New Albany Railroad runs between those two cities, serving them and points between the two including Blue Mountain and Cotton Plant. The 26.5-mile railroad is owned and operated by Pioneer Railcorp of Peoria, IL. Pioneer owns about 20 short-line railroad operations in a dozen states.

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