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County approves lake lease

November 5, 2012

Sargent

Oktibbeha County School District conservator Jayne Sargent signed a lease agreement for the OCSD’s portion of the Oktibbeha County Lake and campgrounds at the district’s meeting Monday.

OCSD 16th section land manager Mike Ainsworth said this recreational lease to John Barnett and Rick Stansbury will give the school district $31,290.25 in annual income.

“That acreage totals out to be right at 312 acres, more or less,” Ainsworth said. “That will be for a 25-year contract with readjustments every eight years.”

Sargent said she applauds Barnett and Stansbury for taking this crucial step toward reopening the lake to the public. She said the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors also signed off on the lease at its meeting earlier the same day, making her signature the last one needed.

“It’s good for the district, but it’s (also) good for the community and the children,” Sargent said. “We’re anxious to serve the whole community (through the lake).”

Previously, the county school district and the supervisors have issued requests for proposals (RFPs) for leases no less than $40,700 per year for 407 acres of lake and campground land at the behest of the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office. This price arose from a re-appraisal that set the land’s value at about $100 per acre, leading the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to vacate a lease where it paid $2,500 per year for all 407 acres.

The price given at the OCSD meeting for the 312 acres fits this $100-per-acre appraisal.

Orlando Trainer, Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors president, said while the 312 acres belong to the OCSD, the remaining 95 acres belong to the county and have not been leased yet.

“This extra acreage is property that’s underwater,” Trainer said. “The board gave me a directive (at Monday’s county board meeting) of trying to sit down with (Stansbury and Barnett) to decide how the board of supervisors is going to handle their part of the acreage that was not leased. That land is sitting out there, and we need to determine what kind of arrangement we have, how we’re going to have an understanding about who’s responsible for what and what’s expected from each other.”

OCSD attorney Bennie Jones said one of the lease agreement’s conditions is for the lake and campgrounds to remain open to the public. Trainer said the timetable for the lake to reopen is uncertain and largely up to Stansbury and Barnett, but he does not expect the division between the leased and unleased portions of the lake to slow the reopening down.

“The board of supervisors ... (is) going to have to sit down and come up with some sort of contractual agreement with Mr. Barnett and Mr. Stansbury if they decide they want the (remainder of the lake),” Trainer said. “(In) the worst-case scenario — if they refuse to accept it — I guess the county can come out and put some type of barrier or partition up there, but that wouldn’t be feasible. We may have to sit down and come up with some kind of creative way to make this thing happen.”

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