Ainsworth clarifies Oktibbeha County Lake lease

November 9, 2012 9:58:06 AM



STARKVILLE -- Mike Ainsworth, the 16th section land manager for Oktibbeha County, cleared up some discrepancies Thursday in some reporting on a lease of 312 acres that includes portions of the Oktibbeha County Lake. 


The Oktibbeha County School District signed a 24-year lease with former Mississippi State basketball coach Rick Stansbury and a partner on Monday. 


The lease will produce an annual income of $31,290 for county schools, although the rate could be affected by future appraisals, which are made every eight years by state law. 


Each county in the state is divided into one mile square sections. The 16th section of each county is owned by the state and leased. The proceeds from those leases help fund county schools. One square mile is equal to 640 acres. 


"The Secretary of State's office decided the school district would just simply lease out the park area, which is about 25 acres, and the portion of the body of water they owned, which is right at 298 acres," Ainsworth said. "It would be nice to lease the rest, but a good portion of it is thick timber." 


The land's most recent appraisal valued the land at $100 per acre and prompted the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to vacate its lease in April. The property, which included a recreational area, complete with boat docks, pavilions and picnic tables, has been closed since then. 


The OCSD put out a request for proposals soon after looking for someone to lease 451 acres, the portion of the 16th section land lying west of County Lake Road and south of Harrell Road. 


Stansbury and his partner, John Barnett, placed a bid on the property for $25,000 a year, but the bid was not accepted, and could not have been, according to state statute. 


Ainsworth told the Dispatch in August that school districts could not legally accept anything below the appraised value of the property. 


It has been reported that the county, under the power of the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors owns a piece of the 16th section land that surrounds the lake, but Ainsworth said the roughly 30 acres the county owns is not 16th Section land. 


Even so, Oktibbeha County District 2 Supervisor and board president Orlando Trainer said he was going to try and sit down with Barnett, Stansbury and Ainsworth in order to discuss the possibility of Stansbury and Barnett leasing the county-owned property. 


Ainsworth said he doesn't see the need to participate in that meeting, however. 


"There is no reason I would have to be involved in that,'' Ainsworth said. "It should be just the supervisors, Stansbury and Barnett. 


Either way, Trainer said there will a conversation. 


"We are going to have a meeting of the minds to try and see if we can work something out," Trainer said. "It probably won't be until the first meeting in December though." 


Because the land is not 16th section land, the board would not be bound by having to accept the minimum $100 per acre, and Trainer said they could likely give Stansbury and Barnett a better deal. 


Trainer added that he needed to talk with District 3 Supervisor Marvel Howard and District 4 Supervisor Daniel Jackson. 


Neither Stansbury nor Barnett responded to requests for interviews. 


"I don't see why they wouldn't want to lease the remaining part of the lake," Trainer said. "It would be difficult to differentiate between the separation in the body of water, and you could run into problems where one thing could affect the other. 


"We just need to at least give them the opportunity."