Supervisors opt to not renew wildlife bldg. lease

Published 6:00 am Friday, January 16, 2009

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks willlikely leave Brookhaven after county supervisors decided not extendthe lease on the department’s county-owned office building,department officials said.

MDWFP Deputy Director Al Tuck said his agency is looking atmoving its District Five headquarters from its office on SecondStreet to an existing facility in Percy Quin State Park, just southof McComb, before the lease expires on June 30. Tuck said thedepartment has had a presence in Brookhaven for approximately 12years, since first moving into the office in 1996.

Lincoln County supervisors have tentatively decided to let thebuilding’s lease expire to free up space for the relocation of theLincoln County Tax Assessor’s Office, which they say has outgrownits offices in the Lincoln County-Brookhaven Government Complex.The board decision should be made official Tuesday, supervisorssaid.

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Tuck said the move to Percy Quin is not official, but the officespace available there is quite accommodating. He said the existingfacility is two stories high and spacious, has a large parking lotfor customers and is already equipped with a high-speed T1telecommunications line.

“We’ve got ample space there,” he said. “Back years ago that wasan option we were looking at when we put (the office) inBrookhaven.”

Tuck said the office employs six people, most of whom areregional employees who rotate between offices. The existingemployees will transfer to the new office, and no one will be laidoff, he said.

Tuck said “the plan is” to move to Percy Quin, but localofficials are trying to keep a MDWFP presence in Brookhaven byoffering up other buildings for the department to use.

The loss of a local MDWFP office could mean longer drives forLincoln County’s sportsmen.

Capt. Jamie Cummins said those who take online hunter’seducation courses have to certify their courses and take the finaltest at the district office. Some boaters will have to tow theirvessels to the office for inspections if a meeting with a localofficer cannot be arranged.

Hunting and fishing licenses can be purchased at Wal-Mart andseveral sporting goods stores, he said.

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive VicePresident Cliff Brumfield said the loss of the local MDWFP officewill not hurt Brookhaven economically, given the low employmentthere, but it would be a visibility issue from a statestandpoint.

“The presence of any state agency’s office in your community isa definite positive,” he said. “It will be a loss from thestandpoint of us not being able to call Brookhaven home for thatagency, like we’re able to do for numerous other governmentalentities.”

Brumfield said he understands the decision by both MDWFP andcounty supervisors, however.

“Just as Lincoln County has grown, so have the services demandedof our county government,” he said. “It was a wise move made bysupervisors, but we still want to accommodate and maintain ourwildlife office in Lincoln County.”

Lincoln County Board of Supervisors President the Rev. JerryWilson said supervisors have long sought a solution for the taxoffice’s cramped working conditions, and removing MDWFP to makeroom will solve that problem. The county is already renting spacein the Kees building across from the courthouse for some tax officetasks, he said.

“Right now, they’re kind of on top of each other,” Wilson saidof the tax office. “They could do a more efficient job, get peoplein and out faster. It’s going to really help out.”

Lincoln County Tax Assessor Nancy Jordan could not be reachedfor comment.