EOC building still on the table

Published 11:04 am Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Panola County Board of Supervisors this week agreed to begin looking at potential sites for a new Emergency Operations Center building if differences between their board and the Sardis Board of Aldermen can’t be resolved.

The supervisors have asked the Sardis aldermen several times to turn over the building that has housed the Emergency Operations Management department since 2009, citing more than $200,000 in improvements the county has made. The aldermen, wanting to retain ownership, have offered to extend the free lease 45 more years, but supervisors appear steadfast in their determination to own the building before putting any more money into what was once the Sardis National Guard Armory.

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Sardis Alderman-at-Large Michael Price said the supervisors’ decision to reject the long term lease is “an injustice to all county taxpayers.”

The EOC building is an 11,000 square foot structure that houses Emergency Operations Manager Daniel Cole’s office, the county’s extensive 911 Emergency and general dispatch system, trucks, fire equipment, off road vehicles, boats, and living quarters for Lifeguard ambulance personnel. The central location of the building in the county also makes it an ideal space for monthly meetings for a number of local and state agencies.

In response to Sardis’ refusal to deed the building to the county, supervisors this week also stopped its participation in the construction of a walking trail the aldermen have been planning for months. The trail is being funded by a grant from the Mississippi Wildlife and Fisheries Department, with the county providing the base material and spreading.

A change order in the material to be used for the walking trail came before the supervisors this week, and they tabled the usually routine matter, effectively putting on hold the walking trail project. Supervisors indicated they would revisit the walking trail if talks about the EOC were resumed.

In other business, the supervisors heard from William Wiggly about the success of a roadside spray program they used this year in lieu of the time consuming and costly efforts to trim overgrown trees and bushes. They will decide soon whether to continue that program.

Also, the supervisors agreed to reduce an old garbage bill from $132 to $66 after Anita Edlin appeared before the board. She complained the bill was from 13 years ago, and actually belonged to her former husband who is now deceased. She has been unable to get a car tag renewal because of the bill.

Edlin said she didn’t think the bill should be her responsibility after 13 years, but County Attorney Gaines Baker warned the board that wiping out the total amount owed would set a “dangerous precedent” for future complaints. A system error apparently caused the bill to flag Edlin’s account years after the initial arrears.