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Training prepares new supervisors
JACKSON – Mississippi State University Extension Service’s Center for Governmental Training and Technology recently gave newly elected county supervisors some of the tools they needed to begin work in the new year.
New supervisors from across the state participated in a training session designed to teach them about basic laws and ethical issues that supervisors face on a daily basis.
“This orientation program helped expose newly elected supervisors to both the legal and financial responsibilities of their office,” said Sumner Davis, interim leader of the center. “In addition to preparing them for the challenges of the office, the program allowed them to interact with officials from various state agencies and other counties. These interactions expose participants to the current best practices and emerging theories of local government service delivery within the state.”
Davis said the turnover statewide for supervisors was roughly 29 percent, which is consistent with the last two election cycles.
Most newly elected supervisors have not served in any type of government office and need the introduction this orientation provides.
“I beat a 20-year incumbent,” said Harvey Lee of Desoto County. “I am brand new at this. The training here is going to help a lot.”
Josh Meredith of Tate County said he has been around county government all his life and has worked for the county road department for 15 years, but serving as supervisor will be a new experience.
“We’re here to learn some basic laws and guidelines,” he said. “We don’t want to do anything wrong.”
After teaching school for 31 years, Preston Billings of Bolivar County just won the seat of a veteran supervisor.
“This is my time to give back to my community,” Billings said. “I was one of 16 kids, and my mother died when I was five years old. The community took care of us then. I have lived in the Delta my whole life, and I want to do what I can to improve it for those who still live here and for those who have left and would like to come back home.”
Improving their hometown communities is the reason many new supervisors ran for office in the first place.
“The newly elected supervisors are excited and ready to go, and that’s a good thing,” said Charles Selmon, president of the Mississippi Supervisor’s Association and Warren County supervisor for 16 years. “They are ready and willing to work for their constituents, and this training helps them to grasp a bit of what it means to be a supervisor.”
The Center for Governmental Technology provides technical assistance, specialized publications, training and certification to elected and appointed officials. The center works with the education committee and staff of the Mississippi Association of Supervisors to provide formal training during workshops and conferences throughout the year. Technical assistance is also offered on a time-available basis to counties in areas such as financial administration, general management, personnel administration, leadership development, and community facilities and services.
“By providing these services, the center assists local government entities and officials in an effort to improve local government throughout Mississippi. As a result, all of the taxpayers of Mississippi have gotten a significant increase in return on their tax dollars,” Davis said.