• 73°

City closer to annexation, mayor tells other officials

Board of aldermen action on annexation is about two weeks to amonth away, Mayor Bill Godbold said Tuesday during a quarterlyCommunity Elected Officials meeting.

Godbold said annexation consultants are wrapping up work on cityexpansion boundaries. The mayor said an annexation ordinance votehas not been possible because of various board member absences atrecent meetings.

“They lack the OK of the full board on the area we want to takein,” Godbold said.

At last count, annexation would add about 1,400 people to thecity’s population.

“People are continuously moving out,” Godbold said, citingcitizens’ desires for larger lots and larger homes. “But if they’regoing to move out, we’ve got to move out.”

City officials have developed an annexation map but do not planto release it until an ordinance vote is taken. Godbold did notrelease many details Tuesday.

Godbold said the proposed area was smaller than one considered ayear ago. The mayor said the proposed area stretches south fromHighway 84 to north above the Wal-Mart Distribution Center.

When asked about opposition, Godbold said distribution centerand McLane Southern officials were not favorable to annexationplans. He said the city would work with the companies and hopefullyaddress some of their tax concerns.

“We hope we can make it favorable to them,” Godbold said.

Godbold, the only city official at Tuesday’s meeting, went on totout mental health crisis center plans, the Whitworth fire loopproject, new Mississippi National Guard and Mississippi HighwayPatrol buildings and city-related plans for the old facilities, thelibrary expansion and progress on the Mississippi School of theArts.

“We’re all going to be proud of that,” Godbold said about thearts school.

Chandler Russ, executive vice-president of theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, praised the city’svision in donating the campus, building and bond issue money forthe school. The city’s contribution will total about $20 million,Russ said.

“It will be a feather in our cap for many, many years,” Russsaid about the school, which is scheduled to open next August.

MEDICAL NOTES

Tuesday’s meeting was held at King’s Daughters Medical Center.KDMC Chief Executive Officer Phillip Grady said the hospitalcontinues to battle rising medical malpractice insurance rates anddoctors in search of coverage.

“That’s our biggest challenge that we’re facing,” Gradysaid.

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove has scheduled a special legislative sessionfor Thursday and medical tort reform could be addressed.

Grady said there was a liability crisis that was being heldhostage by Musgrove, who will only allow tort reform to bediscussed if lawmakers act on a private prison funding bill first.Grady said both issues are important but they should be discussedseparately.

Grady also discussed KDMC’s new hospitalist program, whichallows a doctor to be devoted to hospitalized patients; thehospital’s non-emergency transport service for Medicaid patients;and the hospital’s Medicare reimbursement system. He said KDMC isin line for a higher Medicare reimbursement schedule, but itssub-acute unit is facing a 7-8 percent reduction inreimbursement.

“We’re hoping to keep that program going,” Grady said. “We thinkit’s valuable.”

NEW CAR TAGS

In other discussions Tuesday, Tax Assessor-Collector NancyJordan showed the new state license plate that citizens will startreceiving in October when they renew.

Also, Jordan said a Vicksburg woman paid $4,003 in an auction tohave her Dale Earnhardt NASCAR license plate number as three.Premiums to have other citizens’ tag numbers correspond with theirfavorite drivers’ car numbers ranged from $100 to several hundreddollars.

Jordan said about 38 new specialty tags joined the list thisyear. That is in addition to over 100 already in existence.

“It helps keep us busy getting the specialty tags,” Jordansaid.

COURT REPORT

Sheriff Lynn Boyte and Circuit Clerk Terry Case Watkins said thegrand jury recently returned 60 indictments. Boyte said about 35 ofthose were either in jail or on bond.

“We had some pretty tough cases this time,” Boyte said.

Watkins said there have 291 indictments issued this year. Withanother grand jury session later this year, she said the county ison pace for about 375 indictments.

Following concerns about speeding on old Highway 51, the subjectof radar gun use by counties came up Tuesday. Boyte said the issuefor years has fallen on deaf ears at the legislature, but District1 Supervisor Cliff Givens said he supported the idea.

“I’d rather one of my grandkids pay a $100 spending ticket thanfor me to have to go to the funeral home to look at them in acasket,” Givens said.

COUNTY UPDATE

Supervisors Givens, Bobby J. Watts, Nolan Earl Williamson, W.D.”Doug” Moak and Gary Walker touted a variety of road and bridgeprojects under way or just completed in their districts. Watts,however, said the county’s farm to market roads continue todeteriorate.

“We don’t have the money to fix them like they ought to be,”Watts said. “Something needs to be done about it.”

Kenny Goza, Industrial Development Foundation chairman, said anumber of prospects have been considering Brookhaven as a possiblelocation for their businesses. He mentioned American Eurocopter,which is in the process of evaluating potential sites.

“We hope in the next month or so to be on the short list,” Gozasaid.

Goza and Russ also mentioned an agribusiness vitamin companythat is a possibility and several warehouse distribution prospects.In existing industry activity, they cited a $10 million siliconinjection expansion for Delphi and an expansion by WinWay in theindustrial park.

Goza indicated concerns about an EPCO road project that is about$40,000 short of funding for paving and progress on Industrial ParkRoad overpass lighting and access roads near the bridge. In anotherindustrial park matter, he said an engineer’s recommendation on anew park is expected by the first of the year.