Supervisors give firm authority to take necessary action

By Amanda McBride
The Choctaw Plaindealer

The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors give Watkins & Eager Law Firm authority to take action as may be necessary with Pioneer Health Services.

In the March 20 board meeting, the supervisors met with Michael Gwin and Peyton Prospere with Watkins and Eager and Steve Wright, board attorney, to discuss the lease reinstatement and amendment presented by Pioneer on March 3.

The board previously approved to hire Gwin to review this proposal.

The supervisors entered into executive session to discuss this due to potential litigation.

After two hours in executive session, the board opened the meeting back up to the public. Gwin, Prospere and Wright left the meeting.

Chris McIntire, board president, said the board took the following action in executive session.

“In order to protect the rights of the citizens of Choctaw County to quality health, including the protection of the rights of Choctaw County under the lease with Pioneer Health Services of Choctaw County, LLC for the operation of this hospital, nursing home and medical office building, the Board of Supervisors authorizes Watkins & Eager to take such action as may be advisable or necessary.”

District 1 Supervisor Archie Collins made the motion with a second from District 2 Supervisor Larry McClain. It was approved 4-1 with District 5 Supervisor Eric Chambers voting against it.

Also in this meeting, the board discussed the draft request for proposals submitted by the Horne Group for them to consider. They discussed whether or not to hire Tom Kirkland, a hospital transaction attorney, with Copeland, Taylor and Bush Law Firm, to help with future hospital transactions in the county.

Chambers said it will cost the county approximately $50,000 for Kirkland’s services.

“We have hired an attorney for lawsuit, paid attorneys for two bonds, hired an attorney to look at a two page letter and today hire an attorney for this issue,” said Chambers.

He then made a motion to terminate Steve Wright, board attorney. McIntire called for a second but did not receive any support. The motion died without a second.

“If we don’t get something done, people of this county will be stuck with $17 million (bond),” said Collins.

McIntire said any county supervisors board attorney charges for services outside of board meetings and that Wright does not always charge the board for his services outside of meetings.

“Don’t make it out like Steve is robbing us,” said McIntire.

After more discussion, District 4 Supervisor David Carte made the motion to hire Kirkland with a second from Collins. It was approved 4-1 with Chambers voting against it.

“We are lawyered to death,” said Chambers.

The board then approved both draft RFPs upon approval from Kirkland.

On a different matter, the board approved to pay two separate fees to Bancorp South after discussing the issue for two meetings.

The board approved to pay Bancorp South $1,500 for the annual transfer fee for the 2013 bonds. This is after Chambers and board found this fee stated in the bond book.

The supervisors also approved to pay Bancorp South $750 for the annual transfer fee for the 2011 bonds. This was approved 4-1 with Chambers voting against it.

Chambers says this fee is not stated in the bond book. McIntire said the fee is in the bond book but does not state a specific amount.

McIntire also presented a letter from Bancorp South from 2013 stating the board would be required to pay both annual fees.

The Board of Supervisors also approved:

  • Resolution for Scenic Byway Route stating Choctaw County would install and maintain signs on Choctaw Lake Road East.
  • Travel for constables on April 17-18 in Gulfport for training.
  • Postage request from the Justice Court clerk.
  • Recognized the February Grand Jury report.
  • Solid Waste assessments, adjustments and deletions.

The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors will hold a special called meeting on March 26 at 9 a.m. at the courthouse. They will also hold a regular meeting on March 31 at 9 a.m. at the courthouse.