No problems, just caution, in Lincoln Co.

Published 5:00 am Thursday, October 18, 2001

As Anthrax concerns increase statewide and nationally,Brookhaven and Lincoln County officials say they have not receivedany calls about the germ, but they are taking some precautions justin case.

Clifford Galey, civil defense director and safety coordinator,said he had received about seven or eight local calls following therecent rash of Anthrax cases in Florida, Washington and NewYork.

“None of them have been Anthrax calls. They have concerns aboutsuspicious mail,” Galey said.

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Lincoln County Sheriff Lynn Boyte reported no problematicactivity.

“All of our people are acting sensible, and we haven’t gottenany hoaxes,” Boyte said. “I hope we don’t.”

State and federal officials earlier this week warned citizensabout making Anthrax scares and said they are investigating anumber of calls. Two people were arrested in Oxford after makingsome off-the-cuff comments about the germ.

Local postal officials said their employees were being kept upto date on procedures for handling suspicious mail. They alsoreported no difficulties.

“It hasn’t been a problem in Brookhaven,” said Postmaster GaryBlack, who directed other questions to state postal officials, whowere unavailable.

Police Chief Arlustra “Pap” Henderson said Brookhaven had beenblessed to avoid any problems. He mentioned a case where one womanhad a concern about a suspicious letter from Singapore, but itturned out to be a chain letter.

Galey has been working with local emergency officials indeveloping protocols for dealing with suspicious mail.

“We’re trying to prepare ourselves in the way we’re going tohandle it if mail comes in,” Henderson said.

Earlier this week, Galey distributed state health department andMississippi Emergency Management Agency mail handlingrecommendations to various city and county department leaders.

Officials suggest:

* Only person person per office should be designated to openmail. Also, the person should wear disposable latex gloves thatshould discarded after each use.

* Do not open suspicious mail.

Officials described suspicious mail as something unexpected orfrom someone unfamiliar to the recipient, is addressed to someoneno longer with the receiving organization, has no return address orone that can’t be verified.

Other suspicious characteristics include mail that has anunusual weight; is oddly-shaped for its size; is marked “personal”or “confidential”; has protruding wires, strange odors or stains orshows a postmark that doesn’t match the return address.

* Suspicious mail should be placed in a zip-lock bag and sealed.The handler should wash his hands with hot, soapy water and thencall local law enforcement.

Galey said the recommendations would be good for businesses tofollow as well.

“It’s just a safety thing,” Galey said.