Billions of BP settlement dollars being spent to restore the Gulf of Mexico
The indecision over $500,000 in BP settlement money Lamar County received from Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, appears to be no more.
Lamar County Supervisors talked at their meeting Thursday about giving the money to the city of Sumrall for tennis courts, as Fillingane had wished.
“I’m very appreciative of the Lamar County Board of Supervisors and their decision to send the money to the town of Sumrall for the purpose I had gotten it for,” Fillingane said. “I am very thankful they came to that decision and I’m excited for what it means for the town of Sumrall.”
Supervisors had planned to spend the money on a new, centralized county sports complex, not knowing Filligane had earmarked it for six tennis courts and some soccer fields at a community site in Sumrall off Highway 42.
The site already contains some soccer and other athletic fields, and is located on county-owned land.
Supervisors had complained at their last meeting that putting the tennis courts in Sumrall would impact a significantly smaller number of county residents than building a centralized sports complex. Fillingane had argued he had legislated for the money with the specific intent of the tennis courts at the Sumrall location.
Supervisors had been talking about a plan to put the sports complex on 16th Section land off U.S. 98 in District 5. They had been discussing a centralized sportsplex ever since 45 percent of county residents responded to a survey, in the county comprehensive plan, saying they wanted one.
Board president Joe Bounds said supervisors will likely vote on a Memorandum of Understanding at their next meeting Dec. 3 to give the money to Sumrall.
He will go back to his aldermen to find out if they will accept the money and let the supervisors know before their next meeting.
“It’s kind of been a mess since Day 1,” Bounds said. “We thought this would be the best solution to the situation.
“The senator said he fully intended for the money to go to Sumrall, and that looks like the direction we’re headed now.”
District 4 Supervisor Phillip Carlisle emphasized a final decision hasn’t been made, and the board still needs to hear from Sumrall’s mayor.
“We are thinking about that as an option since, after the fact, it came out that it was (intended to be) more of a city project,” he said. “We should at least consider giving it to the city.
“The board thinks if we give them the funds, we should probably give them the (county-owned) property. That way it’s a clean deal.”
Fillingane had previously said he had been unaware the supervisors were planning a sportsplex. He said he would be glad to help them with funding for such a facility.
“I’m very interested in working with our Board of Supervisors,” he said. “We have worked well together over the 20 years I have been in the Mississippi Legislature.
“They are in the early planning stages, but I am definitely in favor of providing access to recreational facilities for all residents of the county. I think the supervisors are forward-thinking in their purpose, and I look forward to helping in any way I can.”