By PAUL SIMS
As state lawmakers continue to grapple with redrawing their lines, other local entities plan to make their case about why the state House plan negatively impacts the community.
The Greater Starkville Development Partnership Board voted Friday to draft a document to state an opinion on the House plan, which splits Starkville across at least four districts and gives the county a total of six representatives.
After the meeting, GSDP President Jon Maynard clarified that the organization will lay out the case why the current plan “hurts and hinders Oktibbeha County.”
Both the Senate and House have approved a Senate map, The Associated Press reported Friday, adding that the House has passed its own plan but the Senate did not approve the House map. The maps are in a state of uncertainty as they are in a single resolution.
Lt. Gov Phil Bryant has named those who would negotiate on the matter, but House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, said he won’t make such appointments because he thinks Bryant should honor “gentlemen’s agreements” of each chamber not interfering with the other’s map.
“Somehow this ‘gentleman’s agreement’ now is seen as something to be respected,” Bryant said Friday at the Capitol. “I just wonder when deal making became a virtue in this building.”
During the GSDP meeting, officials heard from state Sen. Gary Jackson, R-French Camp, via speakerphone.
“The only thing we know is there’s a good possibility it may go to a (federal) three-judge panel,” Jackson said. “Many of us in the senate don’t believe the proposed House of Representatives plan represents Mississippi as a whole or is fair to Mississippi as a whole and I specifically don’t believe it’s right for Oktibbeha County.”
At Friday’s GSDP meeting, District 3 Supervisor and Board President Marvell Howard said he had polled the board and they decided to support a resolution opposing the House plan.
On Monday, the panel had tabled action on the resolution.
“I don’t think we were ever against sending a resolution,” Howard said Friday afternoon following the GSDP meeting. He said supervisors had just come out of their own redistricting hearing and wanted to ensure their maps were in order “before we decided to pursue that resolution so were always in agreement we didn’t like the way the plan cut up Oktibbeha County and our city.”
He said the panel will ratify the poll at their April 4 meeting.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman clarified he was speculating but told the GSDP at Friday’s meeting that Starkville and Oktibbeha County saw significant population growth and counties west of the community encountered losses.
“They were trying to hold the western House districts intact. They had nowhere to go to get population density,” he said, adding “they pretty much made a beeline straight into Starkville.”
The mayor also said: “While that might serve that purpose, it is absolutely unfair to this community.”
In other matters, the board:
• Listened as Mike Hainsey, the Golden Triangle Regional Airport executive director, explained that Delta is retiring two aircraft which fly the routes to Memphis, Tenn. and will replace them with a single regional jet. GTRA will lose a 5:10 p.m. flight to Memphis effective March 31.
• Heard a presentation on a revamped version of the Forum, a leadership program for Oktibbeha County. Organizers say the program is important element in developing leaders in the community. The next class will begin in August.
For information, call the Greater Starkville Development Partnership at 323-3322.