Following up with its decision to move the county fire marshal’s office under the direction of the sheriff’s office, the Harrison County Commissioners Court recently approved an amended slot list to align the fire marshal’s office with the sheriff’s office pay scale, including removal of two part-time positions to be used for salary adjustments for full-time positions.

Sheriff Brandon “BJ” Fletcher said that the fire marshal’s salary is aligned to be the same pay scale as an HCSO captain. Updating the court on the changes, he also reported that his office has now filled the longtime vacant assistant fire marshal position with Jamie McConnell, who recently retired from the Marshall Police Department. The new assistant fire marshal was set to begin Jan. 23. His pay scale is aligned to be the same as an HCSO sergeant.

“He’s going to go out on the [trash] crew, as well,” Sheriff Fletcher noted. “They’ll be fully staffed.”

The commissioners court voted last month to move the fire marshal’s office, including the onsite sewage program, under the supervision of the sheriff’s department in hopes to provide more aid to the various responsibilities of the fire marshal, which includes onsite sewer, inspections, fire inspections and fire investigations. At the time, Fire Marshal Duana “DJ” Couch was the only one juggling the responsibilities as the county had been unsuccessful with filling the assistant fire marshal slot to aid her. The change was effective Jan. 1.

Sheriff Fletcher expressed at last month’s meeting that he believes the change will provide many helping hands to the fire marshal office, with the greatest support being environmental assistance.

The sheriff revealed his plans to organize a trash crew, using inmates from the jail. In his recent update, he noted the crew will travel to littered roads throughout the county two to three days a week, discarding trash.

“That includes couches, TVs and whatever else somebody throws on the side of the road, just nonstop,” Fletcher said previously. “We do still run our inmate crew on Saturdays, but that is not enough. One day a week is not getting it done.”

In addition to trash pick-up, the sheriff said his department will be able to help the fire marshal with investigations, as needed.

County/Courts Reporter

Robin Y. Richardson is an award winning print journalist, serving as the county government and courts reporter. She earned her journalism degree from TSU and master's from LSUS. She is the proud mother of one daughter.