Sheffield supervisors

Paul Sheffield, executive director of the Jones County Emergency Management Agency, receives a certificate of appreciation from Board of Supervisors President Johnny Burnett for the many hours he’s put in this year dealing with four tornadoes, a global pandemic and other issues. “You’ve gone over and beyond,” Burnett said. ªPhoto by Mark Thornton)

A Columbia company will be in charge of removing debris and a Texas-based company will be monitoring things during cleanup from a third twister that struck Jones County in April.

Looks Great Services was contracted to clean up after the tornado that struck the Shady Grove/Sharon area on the morning of April 23. True North Emergency Management, which is a branch of city engineering firm Neel-Schaffer that’s based in Arlington, Texas, will serve as the debris monitor. The debris removal site will be on Charles Duke’s property, which is being leased for $1,000 per month.

True North was selected by a committee made up of Supervisors Phil Dickerson and David Scruggs, Chief Financial Officer Charles Miller and Paul Sheffield, who is executive director of the Jones County Emergency Management Agency. 

Both companies were vetted when supervisors were selecting cleanup and monitoring crews for the tornadoes that struck the county on Easter. True North finished only one point behind Picayune-based Debris Tech, which is overseeing Louisiana-based Ceres Environmental in cleanup from those massive tornadoes. The only other bidders for the monitoring job were county engineer Clark & Associates and TLC Engineering out of Houston, Texas.

The damage from the first round of twisters qualified for federal assistance, so some costs are being reimbursed by FEMA. There has been no disaster declaration for the April 23 tornado, but it affected 11 counties and a request has been made to FEMA’s regional office in Atlanta, Sheffield said.

“We met the threshold (for assistance) … we’re just waiting on their blessing,” Sheffield said.

Supervisor Larry Dykes said he’d received word that the assistance would be approved.

In separate storm-related business, Miller said the county received insurance payments of $92,000 for hail-damage repairs to sheriff’s department vehicles and $24,000 for tax assessor’s office vehicles. Beat 3 also received $15,000 in reimbursements from the state for expenses incurred in response to a tornado that struck the Sandersville area in mid-December.

In another matter, Beat 5 Supervisor Travares Comegys go approval, 3-2, to clean up a burned mobile home on Siggers Road in the Currie Community. Comegys said he went through the necessary legal procedures to do the work on the private property because it is “hazardous to the area,” he said. 

Dickerson said he didn’t want to set a precedent of doing work on private property, so he and Scruggs opposed it. Comegys was participating in the meeting by teleconference, as he has since mid-March, when the governor issued a shelter-in-place order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief Administrative Officer Danielle Ashley discussed some procedures that have been put in place for employees to deal with the pandemic. Employees who test positive must be fever-free for 72 hours and have a doctor’s release to return to work, and when two or more employees are in a vehicle together, it’s recommended they wear masks. The chancery clerk’s office transferred $9,000 to pay for people to man two entrances at the Jones County courthouse in Laurel to check the temperatures of people entering the building.

“I’ve got one man in Ochsner’s and he’s been down two to three weeks,” board President Johnny Burnett said. “This stuff will kill you. We want people to know it’s bad. We ask that people wear a mask because it’s spiking every day.”

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