CHARLESTON -- Mississippi County's code enforcement officer starts today.
During the regular County Commission meeting Thursday, Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg said the officer will begin his duties this month by riding around the county to find the worst problems.
"There's a few already cleaning up," he noted.
Commissioners hired Robert Jones of Anniston for the position during their regular meeting Nov. 16
The officer's job will be to issue warnings for violations of the county's nuisance ordinance.
If a resident does not comply, Jones will then "file a complaint, then we take it to the prosecutor," said Sheriff Keith Moore.
As requested by Blumenberg, Moore said he will find an appropriate citation book for the code officer to use.
Moore said there are some properties in the county that are "cluttered up so bad they can't get in their own yard and then it gets out into the street. ... It accumulates."
In other business during Thursday's meeting:
* The county is facing a 49 percent increase in health insurance premiums for the county's elected officials and employees, according to County Clerk Junior DeLay.
The county's current policy expires at the end of the year.
The total annual premium is slated to go up from $314,000 for 2006 to about $470,000 for next year's coverage, DeLay said.
Blumenberg said he is hesitant to try any company that he hasn't heard of as the county experienced trouble with a little-known insurance company not paying claims a few years ago.
"It's a scary thought to be not insured," he said.
DeLay said the large increase by the current provider, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, is due to a "big loss ratio" in 2006, mostly due to some "extravagant claims" by a few county employees, some of which are no longer employed by the county.
County officials may consider a policy with a larger deductible and then assist employees with the deductible, a method they successfully used the last time they contracted for health insurance.
DeLay said the strategy works well as roughly 90 percent of those insured never make claims exceeding the deductible.
* Commissioner Martin Lucas said he received a letter from Randy Austin of Austin Farms which requests the county reshape County Road 523.
"His concern was the road ditches have been let go and the road has shifted to an incline," Lucas said.
As the incline is causing water to pool along one side, traffic is avoiding the water by driving in Austin Farms' field.
* The trapper contracted to remove beavers from county ditches has caught 14 so far in the west side of the county around Bertrand, according to Commissioner Homer Oliver.
"Mainly (from) Maple Slough," Oliver specified.