Over a year behind schedule, the long anticipated t-hangar at the Copiah County Airport is finally open. The Board of Supervisors inspected the site Monday afternoon and authorized the hangar’s new tenants to start moving planes in that afternoon. The hangar space was quickly filled.
Lisa Mosley of L&G Aviation, the airport’s fixed base operator, maintains a waiting list of applicants for hangars at the airport and looks forward to the construction of additional hangar space in the future. Mosley recently took over the airport’s operation and management of her husband’s company after his death in a tragic plane crash near Gallman.
The board met briefly with Mosley during Monday morning’s recessed meeting to discuss airport matters, such as the terms of the leases for the new hangar space and rent collection. The board attorney was instructed to draw up a standard lease agreement for the new hangar tenants.
Mosley encouraged the supervisors to reform the airport board, which is basically nonfunctioning now. Mosley also urged them to appoint board members familiar with aviation to the airport board’s vacancies.
The board met with Bob Boteler of MEMA and Jenna Henderson, district director for mitigation grants, to discuss a grant which would allow the county to construct a 10,000 square foot emergency shelter. The shelters are designed to protect citizens from 250 mph winds. Similar shelters have been built in Jones, Lamar, Forrest, and Pike counties.
The shelters are intended to provide protection during the emergency event, not for long-term housing, explained Boteler.
The shelter is expected to cost $2.5 to $3.25 million, with 75% of funding from FEMA, 20% from the state, and 5% from the county. The county’s match may be in-kind instead of funds, such as dirt work on the site. The shelter must be built on land owned by the county. The county will be responsible for maintenance when construction is complete.
The board is in the process of completing the budget for the upcoming fiscal year and agreed to make a decision soon.
In other emergency management matters, the board accepted a $29,019.99 grant which will be used to place warning sirens in Gallman. Emergency Management Agency Director Randle Drane reported that he is negotiating with Copiah Academy to locate the siren on their property, where it can serve areas toward the airport as well as the industrial park and Camp Wesley Pines.
An additional grant of $4500 has been received for Local Emergency Planning Committee, which will be used to print emergency survival handbooks for distribution to students. Drane explained that putting them in the hands of schoolchildren will also get them in the hands of parents.
Economic Development Director Neil Honan requested funding of $93,000 for the Copiah County Economic Development District in the new budget. This is $10,000 less than last year’s budget.
The district provides a significant return on the county’s investment, Honan told the board. In the past year the county has received a $425,000 EDA grant for a new water well at the industrial park, plus a $750,000 grant for improvements to Advance Lane. The former Universal building has been leased, “turning a potential liability into a revenue generating opportunity,” Honan pointed out.
The district plans to reduce its rainy day fund, using some of the funds toward operating expenses. Local business have increased their pledges of support.
“We think we can get by and maintain our level of service with these numbers,” Honan said.
The board discussed problems with the courthouse facilities, including the floor in the tax hall and leaks upstairs. Low quote was accepted from Gary Presley to seal the bricks and ledges upstairs to fix the leak problem. The county is seeking a grant to resurface the parking lot, which may cover improvements to the back entrance of the courthouse.
Kenya Norwood was hired as jailer.
Sheriff Harold Jones requested executive session to discuss potential litigation. The board attorney was authorized to file a response for the sheriff in a cause filed in Circuit Court by an inmate alleging civil rights violations, the lack of a law library at the jail, and sanitary conditions at the jail.
Constitution Week was declared in Copiah County for Sept. 17-23 at the request of the Copiah Chapter and Cherokee Rose Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. September 17, 2009, marks the 222nd anniversary of the drafting of the Constitution of the United States.
Advertisement for legal services on the Dentville/Jack Road project was authorized.
Payment for rights of way on the Blocker Road project was approved.
Resignations were accepted from Michael Funchess and Nathan Catchings in the road department. Temporary full time workers hired include Jerry Sandifer, truck driver at the south barn, and Michael Smith and James Robinson at the north barn.
The board adjourned for the month, after inspecting the new airport hangar and spending Monday afternoon in a budget workshop with department heads. The next meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 9 a.m. The board will also meet on Thursday, Sept. 10, at 9 a.m.