October 16, 2012 10:02:12 AM
STARKVILLE -- Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Marvel Howard announced Monday night that he would be relinquishing his role as board president, and then seconded a successful motion that appointed District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer to the position.
"Being president of the board does require a tremendous amount of time," Howard said. "And at this moment, I have some other things that require my time.
"I will not in any way tone down or relinquish any of my efforts as a district supervisor and working for the people in Oktibbeha County."
Thanking the board and the public in attendance, Howard said he truly enjoyed, "every minute of every second," of his almost three years as president, and that he will continue to serve the needs of District 3.
Trainer, who was previously vice president, begins his duties immediately and will serve out the term, which will last through December; District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery was chosen to fill Trainer's position.
The board elects the positions at the beginning of each calendar year.
Prior to Howard's announcement and the subsequent changes, Trainer again brought to the board two issues he has been pushing for several months.
And, again, opposition pushed back, both to the possibility of a proposed $10 million bond issue and to the possibility of a sale analysis of Oktibbeha County Regional Medical Center.
Trainer said he thinks the county could address some crucial needs with the help of a bond issue and has been lobbying for the sale or lease of the hospital since May.
No official action was taken on either item, but opinions were plentiful and, in some cases, forceful.
A proponent of keeping OCH, Frank Davis spoke during the citizen comment period and simply asked Trainer to be specific in what he thinks is wrong with healthcare in Oktibbeha County, more specifically, OCH.
Trainer said partnering with someone with more assets could help OCH obtain certificates of need for services they are currently lacking, to which many in the crowd replied, out of turn, that Trainer was wrong. Trainer told Davis he was sure that this could happen.
After the meeting Davis said, "I would not think if you have Tupelo there and Columbus here, that anyone would want to put all the things a community needs from a hospital here, when there are competitors so close."
But Trainer said that North Mississippi Regional Medical amassed almost $27 million in services for people from Oktibbeha County.
"Those are real dollars that leave with them and go to another hospital," Trainer said.
After some discussion, the board decided that Trainer could hold his own informational session, much like one held in July, and Trainer will likely invite Horne CPAs and Business Advisors, who have handled similar situations in the state.
Nothing was scheduled.
Trainer also discussed the possibility of trying to get a bond issue together before the end of the year in order to address what he called critical needs for the county.
"We need to at least test the water," Trainer said. "With about three years and a couple months left in the term, we could do something significant by the end."
Both Howard and District 4 Supervisor Daniel Jackson were outspoken in their agreement with Trainer that the county does have things that could be fixed if there was some extra cash flow, but that vagueness of Trainer's plans for the money and inevitable hike in taxes, however small, made them wary to support any bond issue.
"Before I go borrow $10 million, I want to see a specific plan that we can present to the citizens and say, 'This is what we are doing, this is how many miles of road we are paving,'" Howard said. "Let's continue to visit this and see if we can nail down something specific."
Trainer persisted, but the issue was unofficially tabled.
"We are on the unit system," he said in reference to taking sides. "Yours are yours and mine are mine. Let's put it out there and see what the public thinks."