Supervisors to discuss hospital, rubbish pit

Published 4:11 pm Monday, December 3, 2018

By Jeremy Weldon

The Panola County Board of Supervisors will have a full agenda at its regular first Monday of the month meeting next week at the Sardis Courthouse.

Two of the more pressing topics likely to be discussed is the ongoing process of finding a buyer for Panola Medical Center, and whether to allow a rubbish pit to be operated by the county on property at the corner of I-55 and Hwy. 315 at Sardis.

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Curae Health, a Knoxville-based company, filed bankruptcy papers about three months ago for three of its facilities in Mississippi – hospitals in Clarksdale, Amory, and Batesville. Since then, the company has actively tried to sell the hospitals with rumors of deals for the Amory and Batesville facilities circulating, but nothing definite released from the company.

Dr. Michael Havens, longtime Batesville physician who has had part ownership in the hospital at different times over the years, is scheduled to speak to the supervisors at Monday’s meeting. The supervisors say they’ve been told very little of the progress of the bankruptcy, or the potential sale, and the county has not been officially asked to put any additional money into saving the facility.

Havens’ visit to the board will likely result in an executive session meeting, especially if terms of a potential sale are being discussed.

The matter of the rubbish pit will also be before the board again next week. Only board president Cole Flint seems to be in opposition, and he maintains that opening a rubbish pit will only be added expense for the county’s already-stretched garbage collection budget.

In short, about 40 acres of land previously used as a gravel pit has been offered to the county for essentially free, and proponents of the rubbish site say the supervisors can save considerable amounts of money yearly by carrying rubbish – limbs, lumber, construction debris, etc. – to a county-owned pit and not trucking it along with household garbage to the landfill in Pontotoc County.

Flint says the costs of operating a rubbish pit will far outweigh the savings, and that the county already owns property that meets qualifications for a rubbish pit should the supervisors really want to open a site. This property is located at the end of Viney Creek Rd. where the county owns a large gravel pit. Some of the area, like the property in Sardis, has been stripped of all the reachable gravel and could be converted into a rubbish site.

One of the major expenses, Flint said, is the nearly $100,000 the county would have to spend for DEQ samplings and testing required to make a Class I rubbish site. It’s those costs, and the fact that the county would not own the property, that opponents of the proposed deal consider grievous.

Should the county not accept the property, the owners would be required to spend their own money to have DEQ testing completed in the land reclamation process required by state and federal law.

So far, the supervisors seem willing to get into the rubbish pit business with board members Donald Phelps, Verniece Avant, and James Birge on board. Supervisor John Thomas is related by marriage to the owners of the property in question and has abstained from all discussion and related votes.

Supervisors will meet at 9 a.m. Monday for discussions and to hear public comment on county matters.