New questions surround utility contractor S.H. Anthony

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - There are new questions about whether utility contractor S.H. Anthony, hired by several government bodies, is earning the millions in tax dollars it's being paid. The company also has an operations and maintenance contract with the Harrison County Utility Authority, and WLOX News has learned that work was not being done regularly.

Harrison County Utility Authority President Billy Skellie opened this week's meeting asking for any public comments. No one responded. So I took opportunity to ask board members about S.H. Anthony, the contractor that signed a 4-year $12 million contract with the Utility Authority.

The company was hired to perform operations and maintenance at lift stations, water treatment facilities, sewer plants and water towers in the county.

Bert Clover, the acting director of Utility Authority, confirmed there had been concerns that S.H. Anthony wasn't doing the work, and the utility authority took steps to find out.

WLOX News was told from a reliable source that the former executive director laid out a little test to see if S.H. Anthony was doing the work. He put some toothpicks and paper in strategic locations to actually see if they were picking up manholes and opening up doors. The source told us that this went on for a couple of weeks and the toothpicks and paper remained in place, which he said proved they weren't doing their job. I asked anyone from the Harrison County Utility Authority board to respond.

Acting director Bert Clover said, "That is true." He added, "We met with S.H. Anthony and discussed these issues."

Clover said S.H. Anthony was working shorthanded because they had lost several employees.

Supervisor Marlin Ladner wanted to know if any member of the board knew about it. Board President Billy Skellie asked if anyone knew about it and they said no.

Since it was revealed there were issues involving S.H. Anthony, I asked for anyone to respond and Bert Clover did.

"We were monitoring it and even though S.H. Anthony didn't open lids and did do the required checking, they were still doing drive bys," he said.

Harrison County Supervisor Marlin Ladner later told me more questions need to answered.

"I'm concerned about it," Ladner stated.  "I think we're all concerned, AJ. We definitely need to look at it if we've been getting the service that we've been paying for. This involves taxpayers' and fee payers' revenue and we definitely need to be looking into it."

I contacted the attorney for S.H. Anthony for a comment.

Hugh Keating told me, "Sean Anthony relies on his employees to perform their duties. Anthony is investigating this matter and if it's determined that an employee failed to do his job properly, that employee will be appropriately disciplined."

He added, "Sean Anthony has a positive reputation in the business."

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.