Walthall responds to land swap proposal

By Daniel Brunty
The Webster Progress-Times

The Webster County Supervisors received a response regarding a proposed land swap with the village of Walthall during its second monthly meeting Monday.
The meeting began with the board going into executive session for an hour to discuss litigation matters. No related action was taken when the board returned to open session. The county is defendant in one federal lawsuit about the courthouse insurance claim and plaintiff in another.
With county voters supporting replacement of the courthouse during a special election on April 8, one of the next steps for the county is to decide a location for the replacement building.
Walthall Mayor Belinda Stewart told this newspaper that on April 14, county board attorney Buchanan Meek Jr. approached her on behalf of the Board of Supervisors to propose a land swap with the county to trade the fire-damaged courthouse to Walthall in exchange for the 14.1 acres the village owns at the intersection of highways 50 and 9 (west side).
She also said the board, through Meek, asked the village that if it did not agree on the trade, what would be the terms of providing all or part of the acreage to the county.
The county board received a hand-delivered memorandum dated April 21 with a response from the village of Walthall during Monday’s meeting regarding the proposed land swap. The memo reads as follows:
“The attorney for the Webster County Board of Supervisors recently asked the mayor of Walthall if the Village of Walthall Board would be willing to do a land swap – with the county trading the current courthouse (as-is) to the village in exchange for the 14.1 acres at the intersection of Hwy. 50 and 9. And, if not, what would the terms be regarding providing all or part of the 14.1 acres of land to the county.
“The Walthall Board discussed these questions in their April 15 board meeting with the following response. The village of Walthall would not be interested in a land swap which would provide the 14.1 acres of land to the county in exchange for the courthouse “as-is” being given to Walthall because this option would put a tremendous and unfair burden on the village of Walthall because of the cost of cleanup or demolition of the property.
“The Walthall Board discussed the possibility of making a portion of the 14.1 acres available to the county at a fair cost if the county will 1) provide detailed information and a commitment on what they are going to do with the current courthouse and square and 2) keep the county court and offices in the village of Walthall at least to the extent that they were here before the fire and 3) acquire land only to the extent actually needed for the current courthouse or annex project (with a site plan showing the layout) and 4) provide detailed information on how the land will be used – how graded, landscaped, how drive will connect to highway, etc. Additional adjacent land could be reserved and provided to the county as needed.”
After the letter was presented, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion to spread a copy of the memo on the minutes. No further action was taken.

Other Business

In other action Monday, supervisors voted to:

  • allow the tax assessor’s office to install window tint in the office and to hire Jim Spence for the work at a cost of $600, to be taken from the tax assessor’s office budget.
  • maintain the property of Corey Stidham on Spring Valley Road as a school bus turnaround for the remainder of the school year.
  • ratify and accept the sale of a dozer and a tractor for a net total of $10,830, and remove them from the county inventory. The sale took place at Thomas Auction in Kosciusko on April 9.
  • grant a tax exemption to Plymouth Tube Co. based upon its application dated April 8, and approve the required supporting resolution.
  • enter into a host agency agreement with Experience Works to allow one worker provided by Experience Works to train with Webster County by working with the sheriff’s office and Justice Court clerk.
  • allow Constable Jeff McMinn to attend an associational conference in Gulfport from June 2-7.
  • pay for the repair of the Mathiston fire truck in the amount of $4,986.35 or less out of fire levy funds, and amend the budget appropriately.
  • approve the signing of final acceptance documents for LSBP project #7822.
  • Vice President Paul Crowley presided in the absence of board President Pat Cummings. The Webster County Board of Supervisors recessed until April 30 at the Doss Building.