By PAUL SIMS
Oktibbeha County supervisors approved a plan Monday which keeps one supervisor district as a majority-minority territory.
County officials held two public hearings – including one Monday – on the subject of realigning the county’s supervisor districts to adjust the lines in the wake of population growth and changes over the last 10 years as reflected in the 2010 Census.
Earlier in the process, at least one county official contended the approach met expectations to keep one district as holding a majority of minority residents, but some citizens expressed concerns the county is regressing after possessing two minority-majority supervisor districts for at least the last 20 years.
District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer cast the lone dissenting vote.
Before voting, Trainer shared his thoughts on what could take place after the U.S. Department of Justice receives the county’s plan.
“Two things are going to happen. Either they are going to approve it or they are going to send it back. If they approve it, I was wrong. But if they send it back, I’ll be right,” he said.
The supervisors approved the plan with one change – moving 48 people, 44 black and four white – in a segment on the eastern edge of District 3 into District 2.
“I think it makes a cleaner boundary,” said Toby Sanford, a representative of the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District involved in producing the map.
The area includes Mitchell and Waldrop roads.
Those concerned about the county’s direction in minority representation point to the fact that the county has had two minority-majority supervisor districts – 2 and 5.
Officials have said that to add more minority residents to District 2, they would have to take away residents from District 5, the county’s current majority-majority district moving forward.
In other matters, the board:
u Held a public hearing on proposed changes to the county’s justice court and constable districts. The so-called “magic number” on population in these three districts is 15,890. Districts 1 and 2 exceeded this number by 701 and 1,684 respectively. District 3 fell below this benchmark by 2,384.
So officials redrew the boundaries to get closer to the magic number in terms of residents, with District 1 now holding 15,339, District 2 including 16,880 and District 3 showing 15,452. This proposed plan meets the required maximum variance percentage of 10 percent, falling within 9.7 percent. Officials intend to hold another public hearing on this map April 18 at 10 a.m.
u Approved a resolution opposing proposed changes to the county’s representation in the Mississippi House of Representatives. The resolution indicates the county grew by 9.2 percent to 47,671 people, twice the size of the average district population in the state. The plan officials are considering will have legislators representing 10 additional counties and splits the county across six house districts, officials said in the resolution.
u Agreed to change the flood plain requirement in the county from meeting a standard of 4 feet above the base flood elevation to 2 feet. Oktibbeha County Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Britt said the new standard will be “much more reasonable” and will “certainly be in keeping to keep them safe from flood water.” Floodplain development applications are still reviewed on a case-by-case basis, he said.
u Agreed to proceed with a Unity Park behind Mugshots as part of the education building under construction in downtown Starkville.
Architects showed a design which included steel panels with the images of various public figures, including the late Bob Marley, the late John F. Kennedy and Jesse Jackson. Officials said they would like to set up a procedure, and possibly a panel, to review additions and changes.