February 26, 2011 9:49:00 PM
After-hours dumping and undocumented payment are allegedly behind the suspension of Columbus'' Public Works director and the firing of another employee.
City officials continue to decline comment on the situation at the Columbus landfill. Mayor Robert Smith said Friday an investigation is ongoing, but would not confirm or deny the allegations aimed at Public Works Director Mike Pratt or former Public Works employee Barnell Tate.
The Columbus City Council suspended Pratt for 20 days without pay and dismissed Tate Tuesday during a special meeting to address personnel matters.
Pratt declined comment on the allegations Friday and Tate could not be reached.
Sources claim Pratt and Tate both accepted money "under the table" to allow individuals access to the landfill after working hours. Several sources confirmed the allegations on the condition of anonymity.
It is unknown how many times illegal dumping took place or how many people were involved, but the practice reportedly reaches back years prior to Pratt''s hiring to head Public Works.
Columbus Police officers reported abnormalities at the landfill in recent weeks. A padlock on the main gate, to which police had a key, was switched with another lock.
The CPD has a key to the gate lock in order to patrol the premises after hours. Approximately two weeks ago, officers were unable to unlock the gate for two consecutive nights. Pratt would later inform police the lock had been mistakenly switched with a lock from a building on the landfill site which sits more than 100 yards away from the gate.
2. Local church reconsidering Boy Scout partnership COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Slimantics: Running game limits Bulldogs' potential STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
4. Lowndes manslaughter conviction under re-examination COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
5. Upright citizen: Starkville man monitors community STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY