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Area wildlife office moving to Magnolia

Officials with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheriesand Parks were scheduled to meet Thursday morning with Pike Countysupervisors to finalize the agency’s area office’s move out ofBrookhaven and south to Magnolia.

MDWF&P Southern Regional Administrator Maj. Lane Ball saidthe department is set to take up a lease on the old National Guardarmory in Magnolia, a little south of McComb. He said saidlong-standing plans to move into the lodge at Percy Quin State Parkwere abandoned in favor of Pike County leaders’ offer of thearmory.

“It’s going to wind up being a lot less in start-up costs,” Ballsaid of the armory. “We would have had to build some stuff in (thelodge) – offices and walls – that we won’t have to do.”

Ball said MDWF&P is planning to lease approximately 6,000square feet of the massive 14,000 square-foot armory, which wasrenovated in 2002 and left empty after the guard’s restructuringmoved the unit stationed there. The armory is equipped with a pairof large walk-in vaults that will be used as arms lockers and alarge, fenced in area outside where boats, vehicles and otherdepartment equipment can be safely stored, he said.

Details of the lease agreement were not available beforeThursday morning’s meeting.

MDWF&P decided to leave Brookhaven for Pike County earlierthis year after Lincoln County supervisors voted to now renew thedepartment’s lease on the county-owned Courthouse Annex building,which has been the home of the District Five office since 1996.Supervisors plan to either renovate or demolish and rebuild thestructure for the Lincoln County Tax Assessor’s Office, which hasexpanded beyond its current space in the courthouse.

Supervisors began discussing renovation plans that would includekeeping MDWF&P in Brookhaven after the public snapped at theirdecision, but negotiations fell apart in early July when neitherside could agree to a solution. Supervisors wanted to cut thedepartment’s space in half and double its rent, while MDWF&Pwanted an extension of the lease for the whole building at the same$500 monthly charge.

Ball said the District Five office in Brookhaven would remainopen until Sept. 30, the last day of its lease, and reopen inMagnolia on Oct. 1.

“Whatever we can do to accommodate their organization, we’remore than pleased to do,” said Pike County District Two SupervisorLexie Elmore. “They do a great job in Pike County and surroundingcounties … and we want to be a help to the wildlife and fisheriesorganization.”