Johnson house needs to be relocated soon

The future of the Robert Johnson birthplace is still a bit unclear, but one thing is certain: if the house is not moved soon there won’t be enough left to preserve.

The Copiah County Board of Supervisors bought the house several months ago with the intention of relocating it to Hazlehurst. The county decided at a previous meeting on a site adjacent to the courthouse, just behind the Heritage House cultural arts center.

Robert Johnson’s descendants objected to the planned site, preferring a lot owned by the Hazlehurst City School District on the other side of the railroad tracks instead. Steven Johnson, the famous blues musician’s grandson, made a plea to the Hazlehurst School Board last week to consider donating the land for the relocation of the house. Supervisors pointed out during Monday’s board meeting that the imminent state takeover of the city schools would probably delay any property deal beyond the rapidly closing window of opportunity to save the house.

Cultural affairs director Janet Schriver suggested that the board continue its plan to stabilize and relocate the house as soon as possible to save it from further dilapidation. If the house needs to be relocated again in the future, she pointed out, grant funds can be sought for that purpose, but in the meantime the house can be saved from further deterioration.

The board asked that members of the Johnson family attend their next meeting on Monday, June 2, so they can explain their rationale.

In other cultural affairs matters, the board signed a contract with the Mississippi Humanities Council to host the Journey Stories exhibition at the Hazlehurst Depot. Journey Stories is a Smithsonian traveling exhibition that will be hosted in Hazlehurst for about six weeks in 2009 or 2010.

Radio France plans a one hour program on Hazlehurst as part of their 18 hour series on blues and the American railroad, Schriver informed the board.

OTHER BUSINESS

The board accepted the resignation of Kim Palmer at the Emergency Management Agency. Mandy Jaudon was hired to fill the vacancy. Seth Morris resigned as part time dispatcher in the 911 center, and Patsy Strong was hired.

The Gospel Festival committee received permission to use the courthouse grounds for the annual festival on Saturday, August 2.

Representatives of Colonial Life received permission to offer a cafeteria plan to county employees.

County extension agent Shelby Bearden invited supervisors to act as judges in the 4-H cookoff on June 25. He also got their okay to locate a storage building at the fairgrounds, to be paid for with grant funds.

The board was updated on the progress of the Broome Road bridge project by the county engineer.

The board agreed to purchase an ad in the Crystal Springs sesquicentennial souvenir program book before adjourning for the month.

The Copiah County Board of Supervisors will meet again on Monday, June 2, at 9 a.m.

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