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County millage rate holding steady for new fiscal year

County supervisors approved Monroe County’s budget for the ’19-’20 fiscal year as part of its Sept. 13 meeting. The county’s projected revenue for the year is $37,410,533 and according to chancery clerk Ronnie Boozer, there will be no increase in ad valorem taxes.

“That’s kind of misleading as I’ve told you before,” he told supervisors. “If the value of a property goes up, then it would go up and that speaks to the millage side of it.”

Of the approximate $37 million amount, 47.95 percent comes from taxes on homes, automobile tags, business fixtures and equipment, utilities and rental real property.

As far as school taxes, the Monroe County School District will face a 1.58 mill decrease, and the Nettleton School District will face a .95 mill increase.

Supervisors also approved related matters such as a one-fifth mill tax levy in District 4 for the Prairie Industrial Site and a tax levy for the Chiwappa watershed improvement drainage district in Camargo.

The board also approved an order receiving State of Mississippi warrants for 2018 fiscal year homestead exemption reimbursements totaling $234,725 for the county’s general fund, $97,475 payable to the Monroe County school maintenance fund and $19,725 to the Nettleton School District.

The board approved slight increases for commercial customers at the landfill to accommodate the need for retaining wall improvements at the transfer station. The fees will increase from $38 per ton to $39.25 per ton for commercial customers and from $30.54 per ton to $31.79 per ton for the county and City of Aberdeen.

Three Rivers Planning and Development District representative Doug Wiggins said the entity’s authority board enacted a $1 per ton fee for transfer stations in Monroe and Lee counties and Oxford. The authority board also approved a 25 cent per ton increase for a trailer maintenance fund.

There will be no increase for residential solid waste customers.

County road manager Sonny Clay mentioned a gas tanker that overturned in the county last week and said there were no serious issues.

Supervisors approved for county administrator Bob Prisock to apply for a local government records management grant through the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for shelving at the former Monroe County health department next to the Monroe County Courthouse.

Later in the meeting, Prisock spoke about a potential open house for the building’s renovation project to coincide with an upcoming open house at the M&O Depot in Aberdeen. Both projects were awarded grants from the department of archives and history.

“[Aberdeen History Preservation Commission Chairperson Kathy Seymour] is trying to get some dignitaries coming from Jackson and she wants to couple an open house with our building and 30 minutes later, everyone can come to the old health department annex. She’s looking at October 3. We started doing the landscaping yesterday just in case it happens,” Prisock said.

In other business, the board approved for District 3 Supervisor Chip Chism to donate $1,000 from his rural recreation fund for Hamilton’s annual breast cancer event and for District 4 Supervisor Fulton Ware to donate $500 from his rural recreation fund to an upcoming walk benefiting St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

OB-GYNs share rare bond through professional organization’s presidency

Barring any unforeseen circumstances before April, Aberdeen native Dr. Marty Tucker will be named president-elect of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), beginning a three-year term of leadership including president and past-president titles.

In the professional organization focused on the improvement of women’s health’s 68-year history, he will be one of the few Mississippians to serve as president. Even more rare than that, he will be the second OB-GYN with Monroe County ties to serve as president of the international organization.

Dr. Richard Hollis of Amory, who is retired, served as ACOG president in the early ‘90s.

“With two tied to Monroe County, that’s quite and accomplishment. With a small rural county of a little more than 30,000, I’m sure that’s never been done,” Tucker said of previous ACOG presidents being from neighboring small towns.

ACOG serves much of the western hemisphere, including the United States, Mexico, Canada, Caribbean islands, Central American and South American countries. Its primary focus is the advancement of women’s health care. The organization is comprised of more than 57,000 members in the medical profession.

During sessions and meetings, physicians have opportunities for leadership, education and networking to improve their practices.

“You need to be well-versed about the topic and spend some time researching it. I think one of the biggest things was to get fellows in the district areas and small towns involved. Once you get someone involved, you’ve got to introduce them to what the college does. It’s not just a thing on the wall,” Hollis said.

Hollis’ time

Hollis was ACOG’s 44th president and during his tenure, membership increased. It follows the same model as when he served in a similar professional society for North Mississippi providers.

“Once you realize there’s more to life than the meat and potatoes, you can add to the medical meal and contribute to individuals and the society than you’ve had in the past, and it’s very meaningful I could do it,” he said.

He also said during his time as president, females transitioned into playing more vital roles of providing input to ACOG.

In the early ‘90s, the membership from north and south of the U.S. border wasn’t as strong as it is now.

“We were in the phase of working with these countries when I was president. You can’t just stand still. We realized these doctors were doing things we weren’t so for the purpose of education, we got involved,” Hollis said. “When we had meetings, there would be a percentage from South America and a percent from Central America. People didn’t realize there were common problems throughout the world.”

Hollis recognized Tucker as being an intelligent person who worked his way up through ACOG for his upcoming title. Hollis, himself, was involved in several levels of the professional organization, which helped lead to his tenure as president.

Tucker’s time

Tucker, who practices at Jackson Healthcare for Women, has known of Hollis for most of his life, beginning with the fact he delivered his sister, Susan, in 1964. He said Hollis was one of the first OB-GYNs to practice in Monroe County.

“Once I decided to go to medical school in OB-GYN, I sought his counsel. In 1985, I did three months of OB-GYN residency at his practice in Amory,” Tucker said. “The biggest learning lesson I’ve had from him is his care of his patients, looking back to see how fine of a surgeon and a doctor he was. He’s traveled far and wide and met presidents and kings and queens, as far as I know. What has struck me with him is his patients’ well-being and her care has always come first.”

Previously serving as ACOG secretary, Tucker will begin his one-year term as president in April 2021 and his one-year term as past-president in April 2022, followed by a one-year term beginning in April 2022 as past-president.

He will be ACOG’s 72nd president, and responsibilities include representing the organization nationally and internationally, depending on needs. He will also lead projects through his presidential initiative.

He was chosen by the organization’s nomination committee in June over candidates from California, Massachusetts and Washington. He will be the only candidate on the ballot for president.

“My main vision is to lead a successful organization and to continue the good work ACOG does for its membership and for our patients, pregnant moms and their babies,” Tucker said.

Other previous ACOG presidents from Mississippi have included Dr. James N. Martin of the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the late Dr. Woodward Beacham, who served as the first ACOG president.

Tucker said small-town values had helped lead to his professional success.

“This goes back to my upbringing in Aberdeen and in Monroe County. I had great parents and great peers. No matter where you come from, you can aspire to be what you want in life,” Tucker said.

Tucker now practices with Hollis’ granddaughter, Dr. Kathryn Hollis Mallette.

“It closes the circle,” he said of the family connection.

Last local Fred’s closing, Goody’s undergoing changes

Two regional retailers with local locations will soon close, as Nettleton’s Fred’s is part of the company’s Chapter 11 filing and Amory’s Goody’s location will soon transition into a Gordmans.

Aberdeen and Amory’s Fred’s locations closed this summer through two different phases of regional closures. Aberdeen’s closure was announced with 158 other locations in April, and Amory was on a list with 103 other locations in a May press release of additional closures.

After that second round of closures, Fred’s number of stores reduced from 557 to approximately 300 locations.

Like the other remaining Fred’s across the southeast, Nettleton’s liquidation sale will be completed in less than two months.

Several Goody’s locations throughout the southeast have already transitioned into Gordmans locations. The store offers men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, beauty products, pet supplies and home décor.

Stage Stores, which owns Goody’s, purchased 48 of the Midwest-based company’s locations after Gordmans filed for bankruptcy in Nebraska.

Amory’s Goody’s location transition to a Gordmans is part of a company plan to covert stores into the new model.

Currently, the nearest Gordmans location to Monroe County is in Southaven.

Jingles, Jack, Joker, Joy and June are a litter of kittens born June 24. They came to the Aberdeen Animal Shelter Aug. 1. All five of the kittens have had their rabies shots. For more information, call 369-2188.

Aberdeen mayor threatens lawsuit regarding recent aldermen action pertaining to guns

ABERDEEN – Days after the board of aldermen approved a motion to adopt a resolution forbidding firearms and posting signage to that effect at City Hall, Mayor Maurice Howard fired back by threatening a lawsuit if city officials don’t recant the action.

Reaching even further back, he also threatened to file suit against the previous administration regarding a June 2013 resolution adopting a city policy stating no firearms will be permitted on city property due to Mississippi’s open carry law.

“Now they’re coming to me saying, ‘You have no other choice,’” Howard said of attorneys and advocates in support of Civil Rights and gun rights who have approached him. “I’ve laid down long enough. They’ve taken everything from me. It’s time for me to lawyer up and get what is rightfully mine.”

The gun issue stems from Howard showing up to Sept. 3’s fiscal year budget hearing with a gun in a holster. Ward 2 Alderman Doug Stone voiced his concerns after the meeting and made the motion at last week’s meeting to adopt the resolution and post signage.

No signs have been posted, and no ordinance has been adopted. The minutes from last week’s board of aldermen meeting, which Ward 3 Alderman David Ewing did not attend, will be presented for approval at the board’s next regularly called meeting Oct. 1.

“If they don’t resolve it, each board member will be sued individually and fined $1,000. They won’t be able to use legal counsel from the city attorney. They’ll have to get their own legal counsel and face potential litigation,” Howard said.

According to Mississippi Code 45-9-51, “no county or municipality may adopt any ordinance that restricts the possession, carrying, transportation, sale, transfer or ownership of firearms or ammunition or their components.”

Mississippi Code 45-9-51(1)(f)(i) allows a county or municipality, if they have authority under other law, such as “Home Rule,” to regulate the carrying of a firearm at a public park or at a public meeting of a county, municipality or other governmental body.

The city had no comment regarding the threat of litigation.

As of Friday morning, Howard said he had planned meetings this week with five attorneys, and three are willing to work his case pro bono.

“Mayor Howard apparently has issues with his board retaliating against him for various reasons. Those are separate from mine and my partner’s concerns regarding his gun rights. That is because his gun rights are all our gun rights. I have been a crusader for gun rights whenever anybody’s rights are violated by local officials,” said Mississippi gun advocate Rick Ward in a statement.

He continued to state he has had success in the 27 complaints he filed with the Attorney General’s office in five years, including ones against the Lowndes County Chancery Court judges and the 14th Chancery District.

“As I told the board of supervisors in Lowndes County, though it fell on deaf ears, a few years ago we will take whatever action necessary to prevail, including going to the Supreme Court in Mayor Howard’s defense, and it won’t cost him a dime,” Ward said.

He added donations from gun rights enthusiasts have paid for such legal fees.

“I didn’t ask for this. Finally after all the illegal things the board has done, they’ve been caught. They haven’t been caught by the mayor; they were caught by several attorneys,” Howard said. “Several attorneys have said the city needs to hire a new attorney.”

He said even if the board of aldermen votes to change decisions regarding prohibiting firearms, he plans to pursue litigation regarding his salary being cut twice last summer.

With July 3’s first salary cut of $15,000, Vice Mayor Alonzo Sykes presided over the meeting since Howard was absent. During Aug. 21’s $10,000 salary cut, Ward 5 Alderman Jim Buffington was not present.

Both times, the board voted unanimously to cut his salary due to Howard’s absence from day-to-day responsibilities, his unavailability to meet with the public, not engaging with the board and not posting his schedule.

In recent weeks, he has been coming to work at City Hall.

“I’m going to defend myself and tell the truth. This will prove that the mayor never had an opportunity to succeed because of the board I work with is working against me. You cannot succeed without three votes and you can’t succeed when you have five aldermen working against you,” Howard said.

He said going through court proceedings is his approach to having his story told.

“I’ve been told the only way to tell my entire narrative is to pursue legal action. For that reason, I have no choice,” Howard said. “What they meant for evil, God turned it around and made it work for my good.”