County supervisors get it right

Published 9:53 am Thursday, May 18, 2017

By Joel McNeece

Calhoun County Supervisors were asked to reverse two of their previous decisions Monday. They granted one and not the other, and both were the right choice.

Dr. Gary Lee Spears, president of Northwest Community College, asked the board to go back on its decision to open the county’s free tuition program for a community college to Northeast and ICC as well as Northwest.

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At the time of the decision, supervisors said they were open to trying to expand it to East Mississippi and Holmes as well. Dr. Spears spoke passionately about Northwest as a good school president should, but he was caught in a conundrum when he told the board he’s not “trying to tell Calhoun County children where to go to school,” but he did want the supervisors to tell them, or at least where they would only send the money.

A better point was made when it came out that Lafayette County supervisors had made the same decision as the Calhoun County board, and they have a big, successful branch of Northwest right there in Oxford. Dr. Spears said they were next on his list to visit.

The bigger point is we want our kids who can to go to school, regardless of the destination. Eliminating some of the economic hurdles, as the county’s free tuition program does, is a great incentive.

Northwest is still the most attended school for Calhoun County students and the county provides them a mil of tax each year. That should be enough support without limiting options for our graduates.

The board did agree to reverse course on a request from Sheriff Greg Pollan who was seeking additional help for his force.

Last July the sheriff asked the board for two more full-time deputies saying his current four were not enough for the work load. He presented a strong argument noting Bruce and Calhoun City police departments have more full-time officers covering a much smaller area.

Comparing Calhoun to neighboring counties, four deputies pales in comparison to the 13 in Chickasaw County that is smaller geographically. Yalobusha has eight and Webster six despite smaller populations than Calhoun.

Monday, Sheriff Pollan renewed his plea saying the matters are getting worse in terms of coverage, and he was struggling to have a deputy present for the court as all the judges demand.

When supporting funds from the state are becoming more and more scarce for a variety of reasons (which has a lot to do with Dr. Spears’ request also), you can appreciate the supervisors cherishing every penny of local money and using extreme discretion in how they are spent.

In the end, there are certain government services we expect from federal, state and local officials – fund our schools, health care system, infrastructure and law enforcement. Supervisors made the decision Monday to compromise and find funds somewhere to give the sheriff another deputy. It will be money well spent.

Joel McNeece is publisher of The Calhoun County Journal in Bruce. You may email him at