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County schools handle land question in closed session


Bonnie Coblentz



Oktibbeha County school officials met in a very brief open meeting at noon Monday, not to discuss postponed budget issues, but to go in to closed session to handle some business. 


Yvette Rice was the only board member absent from the special called meeting. It was originally set for July 19 before being moved to Monday, first in the evening and then at lunchtime. The meeting was originally planned to discuss the 2010-2011 budget, but that did not happen Monday. 


Superintendent James Covington said after the open meeting that the budget will be addressed at the next meeting. 


The only business the board handled in the open meeting was to approve the consent agenda, which contained per diem and travel requests. This was approved without discussion, and then the board went into closed session. 


The closed session to determine the justification for the closed portion of the meeting extended nearly five minutes rather than the standard moments needed to declare the legal reason for the closed session. Board attorney Bennie Jones was the member who finally left the closed meeting to announce the reason for the closed business session. 


"They will discuss a possible business agreement concerning timber," Jones said. 


When questioned about the legality of closing a public meeting to handle timber sales, business items routinely handled in open session, he said the board will also discuss the possible purchase of land. Jones said land may be needed to provide an easement to allow access to the district''s 16th Section land holdings that contain the timber to be harvested. 


The board will meet again in open session at 6 p.m. Aug. 2 at the central office.




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