Oktibbeha County is facing a growing need for more office space as discussions of purchasing a new building on Lynn Lane continue to drag out.
The county offered $1.7 million for the building, a former Mississippi Department of Health building that’s now owned by CMMG Enterprises, in August.
At Monday’s meeting, board attorney Rob Roberson said that bid has been denied, as the building’s owner has indicated he will not accept less than $1.9 million.
“He said his bottom line for what he has to accept on that particular building is $1.9 (million),” Roberson said. “He said if it’s $1.8-whatever, he’d turn it down.”
The county has been considering a purchase of the building for several months. If it buys the building, it would give it to the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District for use as an administrative building. In exchange for the new building, the county would get the now-vacant East and West Oktibbeha high school locations, as well as the former East Elementary in Clayton Village, which the district now uses for its Alternative Education Programs.
Supervisors took no action on the matter at Monday’s meeting. However, the discussion of the Lynn Lane building was part of a larger conversation about the need for more county office space that Chancery Judge-elect Paula Drungole-Ellis sparked with a visit earlier in the meeting.
Drungole-Ellis, who recently won election to the Chancery District 14, Place 3 judgeship, asked supervisors about security in the county courthouse and whether there is enough space for the judges and their offices.
Drungole-Ellis lives in Starkville. With two more Starkville residents in Rodney Faver and Lee Ann Turner as candidates in Nov. 27’s runoff election for the Chancery District 14, Place 1 judgeship, Drungole-Ellis said it’s possible that for the first time in “many, many years,” the courthouse could host several chancery judge offices.
Those offices would include space for the judges’ court administrators and staff attorneys.
Drungole-Ellis asked about space in the E-911 building, which is currently being split between county emergency management and SOCSD staff.
“It’s occupied,” Board President Orlando Trainer said. “Unless something is moved out — that would be the only alternative.”
Trainer, later in the meeting, said he’d hoped the county could use the E-911 building as a place to house administration and allow the circuit clerk’s office to expand its office space in the Courthouse Annex, where county administration is currently housed. However, he said the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office has also expressed a need for more office space, and with the chancery judges now in the mix, the county has a clear need to find somewhere to expand.
“That’s something we really need to be looking at, as far as finding some adequate space to expand operations,” Trainer said. “I know people have got different ideas but that, to me, is space that would be suitable as space for expansion of county government.”
District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams said he wasn’t sure the higher asking price for the Lynn Lane building should torpedo the county’s purchasing attempts if space is an issue.
“I’m just wondering whether the $200,000 should be a deal killer,” Williams said. “If we really need the building, it looks like we need to go forward with the extra $200,000.”
District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery suggested the county conduct an inventory on what space it has available, though the board did not take an official vote on the matter.
“I’m just saying to task somebody with it,” Montgomery said. “That way we’ll know what we have and what we need.”
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.