Two file papers to run for judges seatBy BETH BUNCH,
Judge Michael W. McPhail, who serves as County and Youth Court Judge and Juvenile Drug Court Judge for Forrest County, has announced he won’t seek re-election.
McPhail informed the Forrest County supervisors he would not run for his current post, which expires at the end of 2019.
He will be retiring in June 2018 and will start collecting his retirement check with PERS, but he intends to fill his seat until the end of his term in 2019.
“This means the citizens of Forrest County will only have to pay 25 percent of his salary,” said Supervisor President David Hogan, “which will be saving Forrest County citizens in the neighborhood of up to $100,000.”
“He’s been a great public servant to the citizens of Forrest County.”
Hogan said it is his understanding that McPhail intends to run for the State Court of Appeals seat being vacated by Judge Eugene Fair Jr. Fair was appointed by Gov. Haley Barbour on Jan. 1, 2012, filling a vacancy in District 5, Place 1, created by the retirement of Judge William H. Myers.
McPhail holds a J.D. from Mississippi College School of Law and an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Two candidates have filed qualifying statements with the Circuit Court for McPhail’s office – Mary-Moore Conville and James D. “Jim” Johnson.
In other action, the board voted to join a class action lawsuit, which could benefit the county’s citizens.
“Everbody is aware that we are battling an opioid epidemic in this country and state,” said Hogan. “In fact, Forrest County is the worst county in the state. Of every 100 citizens there are 200 opioid prescriptions, so we have a problem.”
The lawsuit going on throughout the country results from federal guidelines not being followed. According to Hogan, the major distributors of these opioids were to report to the federal government when large sums of opioids were delivered or asked for. “They failed to do so,” said Hogan. “So, much like the tobaccco lawsuit that Mike Moore was over here in the state, this opioid lawsuit is going on.
“We were asked to join, because we are the worst county in the state, and after talking to Forrest Health and Hattiesburg Clinic people, the board voted to join in that lawsuit, so that if any money is recovered for the citizens, Forrest County citizens would be reimbursed,” said Hogan.
Those monies would go for education, therapy, etc.
“It was something the board thought was a good idea to join in,” Hogan said.
In other action, the board:
• Approved and authorized an increase in the mileage reimbursement rate for county officials and employees required to travel in the performance of their official duties, equal to the Federal Government mileage reimburtsement rate from $0.535 to $0.545 per mile, if no government-owned vehicle is available. If a government-owned vehicle is available then the compensation would go from $0.17 to $0.18, effective Jan. 1. The state maximum reimbursement rate for meals is $41/day in all areas of the state unless traveling to a high-cost area.
• Approved and authorized Hogan to execute a letter to the Mississippi Department of Tranportation, requesting MDOT to activate the Hwy. 49 Landscape Improvement Project to U.S. Hwy. 49 between the Convention Center Plaza and Camp Street.
• Approved and authorized Hogan to execute a contract for professional engineering services between Forrest County and Neel Schaffer for a fixed fee of $40,000 for the U.S. Highway 49 Landscape Improvment Project, to U.S. Highway 49, between the Convention Center Plaza and Camp Street.