September 10, 2013 9:52:49 AM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors' appointment of Minnie Fox to the OCH Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees appears on hold after supervisors failed to approve the motion Monday.
Fox and Linda Breazeale were nominated for the board after two of the hospital board's seven members -- Leon Mathis and Betty Evans -- resigned their posts earlier last month. Mathis was replaced by Breazeale, a District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard nominee.
District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer confirmed Fox abdicated her appointment before Monday's meeting. After the meeting, officials alluded to Article 4, Section 44 of the Mississippi Constitution, which defines the ineligibility of office for those convicted of certain crimes, as reasoning behind the action, but the Dispatch could not immediately determine if Fox was previously convicted of a felony.
Calls to Williams went unreturned at press time.
"No person shall be eligible to ... any office of profit or trust, who shall have been convicted of bribery, perjury or other infamous crime," the Miss. Constitution states.
Bonding issues also appear to have a role in Monday's action. The OCH board previously made it mandatory that its members be bonded by an insurance agency at a $100,000 level. Once their bonding is confirmed, then they can attend meetings as full members.
Miss. Code Annotated 41-13-29 states trustees, administrators and other hospital officials shall be bonded between $10,000-$100,000. Premiums are paid from hospital funds.
At least one supervisor, District 1's John Montgomery, said he was hopeful the board would conduct more thorough background checks on potential appointees.
"It's unfortunate, but it's something moving forward that we need to be doing," he said.
Supervisors previously said they would sit down with OCH trustees and discuss the future of the county-owned hospital, but officials have yet to set a date for such meetings.
Board approves tax waiver for Project Cumulus
In other business, the board approved a tax waiver connected to a potential $20 million development that would bring a data processing business to the Thad Cochran Research Park.
The plan, dubbed Project Cumulus, is still in its early phases, but it could create 100 temporary construction jobs and five permanent, full-time positions if the anonymous investor chooses Oktibbeha County.
Supervisors approved a 10-year exemption for project site property taxes -- ad valorem will be waived, but school taxes remain due -- Monday after the Starkville Board of Aldermen OK'd the abatement Tuesday.
"When was the last time you saw a $20 million project come to Oktibbeha County?" Montgomery asked.
"It shows you where we, as a county, are now versus previous efforts for economic development," he added. "You're now seeing some of the first fruits of an agreement (with the Golden Triangle Development Link) that I think will produce even more. This is why we formed the agreement with the Link."
Since school taxes remain unaffected by the agreement, Montgomery estimated the project, once finalized, could bring the Starkville School District -- later, the consolidated county school system -- about $225,000 per year.
"That's a big help for our schools," he said. "If they continue with even more investments in the future like that, you do the math; you're talking serious cash for the school system."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch