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No ‘buyout’ for EMA but Guard has a plan

By Billy Davis

Panola County’s emergency management office could relocate to the National Guard armory in Sardis as part of a flip-flop plan being proposed by the Mississippi Army National Guard.

Some county officials heard the proposal when they met last week with a representative of the Mississippi Guard, EMA deputy director Daniel Cole said Monday.

Panola County Emergency Management, known by many as civil defense, currently operates from a 1,400-square-foot office at the newer National Guard armory, located on Keating Road in Batesville.

National Guard offices occupy most of the Batesville facility, and for several years the Guard has sought the space occupied by EMA while the EMA itself has sought a larger facility.

Numerous talks between Panola emergency management and the National Guard climaxed with last week’s meeting, where Cole and others learned that a suggested “buyout” of the county agency would not happen.

But the Guard representative, a colonel, came with another suggestion: give Panola EMA the 11,000-square-foot Sardis armory in exchange for the 1,400 square feet in Batesville.

Describing the proposed swap, Sardis Mayor Rusty Dye told county supervisors Monday the City of Sardis owns the armory and five adjoining acres. Dye said he and city aldermen are in favor of allowing Panola County EMA to operate from the facility.  

“If the Guard moves out, the property will go back to the city,” Dye said. “But the city doesn’t want the expense.”

Cole, reached Monday by The Panolian, stressed that talk of the proposed swap is in its preliminary stages.

“It’s being seriously discussed, but right now it’s just a discussion,” he said.

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