Meridian Star

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October 12, 2013

New bond issue petition drive under way

MERIDIAN —     A petition drive to force an election on a bond issue proposed by the Lauderdale Board of Supervisors is under way.

    In hopes of getting money to fund one of the projects proposed in a $14 million bond issue that is being held up in the state's Supreme Court, supervisors on Monday approved a resolution of intent to issue $3.5 million in bonds for the West Lauderdale Youth Sports Complex.

    In keeping with previous votes on the first bond issue, those voting in favor of the new, $3.5 million bond issue were: Hank Florey, District One supervisor; Josh Todd, District Three supervisor; and Joe Norwood, District Four supervisor. Those voting against the bond issue were: Waymon Newell, District Two supervisor and Kyle Rutledge, District Five supervisor.

    A petition drive seeking 1,500 valid signatures to force an election on the first bond issue failed. That more than 300 signatures that came in after the deadline should have been included in the final count is the basis of a Mississippi Supreme Court appeal of the bond's validation.

    County officials expect it could between six months and a year before the high court rules. In the meantime, Todd said Monday he wanted to start over with a new bond issue, hoping that if there were not holdups, the project could move forward.

    Todd said if the $3.5 million bond issue goes forward, that amount would be deducted from the overall $14 million bond issue, which also is to fund a Clarkdale recreation project, a Highland Park project, and renovations to the Lauderdale courthouse.

    Todd said because the people of West Lauderdale worked for 12 years to raise $150,000 to build a youth sports complex, he wants to get the project going.

    West Lauderdale Youth Association purchased land and deeded it to the county, which has pledged to build a sports complex on the land. The dirt work is already done, Todd said, and he wants to get moving on the project by March 2014.

    If the petition drive is successful, the West Lauderdale project would have to wait for the results of a county-wide vote on whether to pass the bond issue.

    Tommy Williams of Marion is among opponents of both bond issues who are working on the new petition drive. Williams said on Friday that he and others are confident that they will get the necessary 1,500 signatures.

    To make it easier for people to get copies of the petition, Williams set up a telephone number that people can call. A message will direct them to state their email address or mailing address so copies of the petition can be sent to them.

    The telephone number is: 601-701-3212.

    "We want people who are opposed to this to send the message that they do not like the county playing fast and loose with their money," Williams said. "We only have three weeks and two days before the Nov. 4 deadline."

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