PASCAGOULA -- County Supervisor Troy Ross will be phoning in to the April Board of Supervisors meeting from Fort Bragg, N.C.
The military has called him to active duty, and he doesn't want to miss a board meeting. So the county has worked out a way for him to participate.
Information System technicians Bert Smith and Kristy Pleasant set up a top-of-the-line Cisco speaker phone to enhance his hearing the meeting and a microphone to project Ross's voice when he speaks to the board.
"I asked for it," Ross told the Sun Herald. "If I know I'm going to miss a meeting, why wouldn't I try to make accommodations to be there?"
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Ross will use a land line to call in.
"Because if this cuts off," he said, pointing to the speaker at his Board of Supervisors seat, "the meeting will have to stop until they reconnect me."
That's the law. If they can't reconnect, the meeting's over.
Ross is scheduled to fly out Easter Day for a training session with the Army National Guard 114th Digital Liaison detachment for three weeks. That would put him at Fort Bragg when supervisors hold the April 4 board meeting.
He said, in North Carolina, he would be participating in an exercise on how staffs operate and manage a battle. He will be working nights, so staying up some extra hours for the board meeting should work, he said.
This is the first time for Jackson County to try this. Ross had heard of a city councilman who deployed for a year, and his council made similar accommodations.
"I knew it could be done, it's just that the county technicians hadn't been too receptive in the past," he said. He is hoping technology has improved.
Ross, in his fifth year as a county supervisor, said that when he's called for annual training, he's usually close enough to drive home for the Board of Supervisors meeting.
"But at Fort Bragg, I can't come home," he said.
If the call-in goes well, he plans to use it again, because he has more military training later this year.
"Now that I know we can, I won't miss any of the meetings," he said.
But what about Easter? He has a wife and three young children.
"We'll be doing Easter on Saturday," he said.
"We're used to it," he said. Being in the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard, "I've missed every single holiday you could miss at least once."