By Amanda McBride
The Choctaw Plaindealer
Questions about the county’s lease with Pioneer Health Systems fuel tempers in the February 10 Board of Supervisors meeting.
District 5 Supervisor Eric Chambers questioned the lease the county has with Pioneer, whether or not there are two leases-the one in the board minutes and a signed copy by both parties, and the liability of moving forward with finding another company to lease the county hospital.
Steve Wright, county board attorney, said there is one lease that the board approved in sustainably filed form on August 8 and authorized the president to sign. He added the lease does not materially change.
Tempers flared with arguments following until Chris McIntire, board president, called the meeting back into order.
Later in the meeting, Wright suggested the board go into executive session to discuss questions raised about the lease with Pioneer.
Citizens attending the board meeting asked the supervisors to have the public comment portion of the meting before they go into executive session.
Rick Jenkins asked the board what their plan of action was on recruiting another company into the county to run the hospital.
Kenny King questioned the board about the lease with Pioneer. McIntire stated the “after further review the signed copy” of the lease is the “good one.”
After more angry discussions, the board went into executive session to discuss potential litigation. After approximately and hour, the board open the meeting back open and stated no action was taken in executive session.
Constables Chris Coleman and Thomas Raybourn asked the board to begin making contributions to their PERS as they do other county officials. Coleman said the new law, allowing this county contribution, took affect January 1. He added that for both he and Raybourn the contribution would be approximately $1,500 per year.
The board said they would review the request. No action was taken at this time.
Marty Crowder, county engineer, addressed the board about concerns they had before formally accepting McIntire Road back from the Red Hills Coal Mine. One major concern is modifying the intersection on the road and signage.
Mike Thomas, with the Red Hills Mine, was also present for the discussion. They also discussed the differences of road easements and convey fee simple titles. After more discussion, the board agreed to have Crowder, Thomas and District 1 Supervisor Archie Collins work out the details and bring back to the board.
The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors approved:
-Agenda after adding professional services agreement.
-To reappoint the following people to the Choctaw County Economic Development District Board: Debra Ward, Philip Evans, Gradie Ervin and Ellen Turnipseed. Their current terms expire in March. They were reappointed for three years.
-Solid Waste adjustments, deletions and assessments.
-Travel and registration for Lori Kerr, tax assessor/collector, to training at MSU on March 17-21.
-Authorize Steve Wright, board attorney, to send offer letters for right of way to affected landowners for the Sanders Road Project.
-To formally accept the Pisgah Road Bridge Project as complete and release funds when received.
The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors came back two days later to discuss hiring a firm to perform the required hospital study.
Before approving their agenda, which consisted of the professional services agreement and Pioneer lease, District 1 Supervisors Archie Collins made a motion to strike the Pioneer lease from their agenda.
“Based on what our board attorney has told us there is not need to discuss this,” said Collins.
Chris McIntire, board president, called for a second. District 2 Supervisors Larry McClain seconded the motion. It was approved 4-1 to strike the lease agreement from the agenda.
District 5 Supervisor Eric Chambers voted against removing it from the agenda, stating, “The board speaks through its minutes.”