By Terri Ferguson Smith / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
County officials are moving ahead to get the first portion of a $14 million bond issue that was passed earlier this year to fund recreational projects and some courthouse renovations.
In a 3-2 vote on Monday, the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors voted to issue $3.2 million of the bonds. Voting in favor of issuing the bonds were District 1 Supervisor Hank Florey, District 3 Supervisor Josh Todd and District Four Supervisor Joe Norwood. Voting against were District 2 Supervisor Wayman Newell and District Five Supervisor Kyle Rutledge.
Newell and Rutledge have consistently voted against the bond issue since it was first brought the the board in April, saying it was too much money when the county had other needs. At the time of the first vote in April, they both said there had not been enough discussion on the bond issue prior to the vote.
The $14 million bond issue will fund $3.8 million to build a 32,000 square foot sports complex that will house a four-court gymnasium with bleachers at Highland Park. Also, $3.5 million of the bonds will go to the county-owned fields of the West Lauderdale Youth Association; $2.5 million will go to the county-owned Clarkdale Community Recreation Association park construction, and the remainder, $4.2 million, will go to fund a renovation of the Circuit Court courtroom at the courthouse.
The bond issue sparked a petition drive which called for a county-wide vote on the matter, but the effort to call for the vote ultimately failed. Citizens on both sides of the discussion have spoken out. Tommy Williams is among those who wanted the bond issue to go to a referendum. There have been recent rumblings about bond issue opponents seeking to stop it through court proceedings. Williams said Monday that he and others are planning to follow through with that.
"We are going to fight you in court to the extent we are capable of carrying on this fight," Williams said. "Hope springs eternal when you know you are in the right."
After the meeting, Joe McCraney, county administrator, was asked about how the $3.2 million would be spent.
Part of it will likely fund dirt work at West Lauderdale; another portion of the funds will be used for ball field lighting at Clarkdale Community Recreation Association, McCraney said. The initial part of the bond issue will also help pay for the design portions of the various projects, he said.
"Before you do a project, you have to have an engineer; you have to have an architect and if you are going to do any kind of structure, there is always site work you have to do," McCraney said.