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Elected county leaders learn by observing

December 10, 2011

By CARL SMITH
sdnnews@bellsouth.net

Oktibbeha County’s two supervisor-elects are preparing for their new leadership roles by attending board meetings before officially taking over, an act County Administrator Don Posey said has been uncommon in his tenure.
District 1 Supervisor-elect John P. Montgomery and District 5 Supervisor- elect Joe Williams won their respective seats by defeating incumbents in this year’s election season — Williams in the primary, and Montgomery in a narrow general election victory — and have regularly attended Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisor meetings since.
“We’ve never really had new members come and sit in (as often) as they have,” Posey said. “I’ve already had a daylong meeting with both of them to go through the basic knowledge and understanding of their duties, responsibilities and so forth. On Tuesday, we’ll take them down to Jackson for a training and orientation session with other new supervisors.”
While the new board of supervisors is set to take over next year, Montgomery will assume his position as District 1 supervisor early due to Carl Clardy’s resignation effective at the end of December. Calls to Montgomery went unreturned as of press time.
Williams, who has a background in county economic development, said attending meetings allows him not only to keep up with county issues as they stand before he takes over as District 5 supervisor, but also helps him get a feel for the board’s language, flow and processes.
“The fact that I have had the opportunity to familiarize myself with the board’s process of how business is handled will only help me in my role. I’ve gotten the opportunity to familiarize myself with various agendas and discussions, and I’m getting a feel for how the board functions,” Williams said. “I’m very excited about (my new role). I’ve been a community-minded person for a long time and I’ve always been involved in community activities. (Serving as a supervisor) will be an extension of what I’ve already been doing. I look forward to working with the supervisors we have.”
Both Williams and Montgomery could have a chance to help craft county legislation in January. The board is currently drafting a potential safety ordinance for county clubs and public gathering places and will hold multiple public hearings before its possible adoption.
“Those safety concerns are the important issues that need to be addressed. So far, it seems the board is addressing those issues in a thought-out fashion,” Williams said.
Oktibbeha County’s current longest-tenured supervisor, District 2’s Orlando Trainer, said both Montgomery’s and William’s initiative to learn will help them serve their districts better in the long run.
“It’s tremendous that they’ve taken the time and come to our meetings to observe,” Trainer said. “That gives them an opportunity to get familiar with the flow. They can then come in and know some supervisors’ thinking and thought patterns on the issues.”
Trainer said new county representatives benefit when long-serving board members provide insight and experience to the incoming supervisors. Trainer said former District 5 Supervisor George Curry provided him with a wealth of knowledge and guidance.
“My first term, I was very excited. Although you might not know much then, if you have the will to learn, you can,” he said. “(Curry) took me under my wing, and I knew if there was any idea I had, I could run it by him. With our new supervisors, I want to formally sit down with them and ask what they want to accomplish. We’ll take those desires, process them and then try to accomplish those goals as we can. We’ll lay down a foundation and build on it.”

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