December 28, 2012 10:14:39 AM
It has been a fractious year for the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors, and 2013 looks to be more of the same.
Board president Orlando Trainer, who led the push this year to sell Oktibbeha County Hospital, found himself faced with equally strong opposition -- a counter-movement of constituents who showed up at every board meeting ready to fight.
Next year, Trainer will turn his attention to another controversial topic, the county-wide comprehensive plan, which he supports but believes needs to be carefully weighed, with plenty of opportunities for public input.
He said county issues ranging from infrastructure to health care can be resolved with a comprehensive plan. Pointing out the state of the roads in the county, Trainer said it is nearly impossible to maintain the paved ones without neglecting others under their current approach.
"I want to draw a line in the sand -- whether it be 15 or 20 or five years, whatever we think is good for the county -- and say we are going to pave all of our gravel roads and make sure our current roads are up to standards, period," he said.
But though it seems likely the board will have the votes to approve the plan, District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery and District 4 Supervisor Daniel Jackson have expressed concerns over the land use section.
Oxford-based urban planning firm Slaughter and Associates has made presentations to the board several times since October and will take over duties from the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District if the board gives the go-ahead on a comprehensive plan.
GTPDD was chosen to develop a plan in 2009, but made little progress other than a new 911 address system.
If a plan is approved, Trainer said Slaughter and Associates could have something drawn up in six months, although public feedback could extend the time it takes for implementation.
Even if there is opposition to the plan, Trainer still feels the debate is beneficial, and he hopes to see the turnout he saw for the hospital discussions.
"When the board was considering some moves with the hospital, we had a full house," he said. "But at the same time we will deal with things that are as important or more, and not a soul shows up."
From a personal standpoint, Trainer said there were definitely some issues, including OCH, that he wishes the board would have made a little more progress on this year.
Even though there were many residents who viewed the search for an alternative means to healthcare as a failed effort, Trainer said the debate itself proved worthwhile.
"I think it was very successful, just in even opening up the opportunity for dialogue," Trainer said. "I am always trying to be positive and forward thinking, and I think that it's a conversation we need to continue to have."