County officials discuss office expansion

Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors discussed potential plans for office space expansion at the board meeting Monday.

District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard and District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller were absent from Monday’s meeting for personal reasons.

The conversation for expansion began when recently elected Chancery Judge Paula Drungole-Ellis came before the board Monday to express her concern over office space and office security. Drungole- Ellis won the 14-3 District judgeship following the Nov. 6 elections.

“One of the concerns I have is the security of the (county) courthouse,” Drungole-Ellis said. “For the first time in many, many years there will be (chancery) judges who will have offices in the courthouse.”

“In the back part of the courthouse, anybody could just walk up the stairs, so I don’t know if this is the right venue or how we can address the security concerns that I have,” Drungole-Ellis added.

Drungole-Ellis also asked about office availability in the current E-911 building.

“Have all of the offices in the 911 building been taken?” Drungole-Ellis asked. “Because I know they have good security. You have to put a code in to get into that area.”

Board President and District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer said the E-911 building is fully occupied, yet he echoed concern over the need for county office space.

“That building is occupied,” Trainer said. “unless something is moved out. That would be the only alternative.”

“We obviously don’t have enough space to do all we need to do,” Trainer added.

Trainer inquired about the progress on the county purchase of property on Lynn Lane. As previously reported by the Starkville Daily News, the former health department building is currently owned by CMMG Enterprises.

Board Attorney Rob Roberson said county’s $1.7 million offer for the building was declined and the owner asked for $1.9 million.

“(The owner) said if it’s $1.8 (million), whatever, (he’d turn it down),” Roberson said. “He said I’ve just got to have that ($1.9 million) for this particular building. I’m losing money otherwise.”

District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams said he thought the extra $200,000 for the building could be worth the purchase.

“It’s just obvious to us that we need more space,” Trainer reiterated. “So I think that’s something that we really need to think about as far as trying to nd some adequate space to expand our operations.”

Trainer said Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney said he’s expanding the sheriff’s office as well and needs more office space. Roberson said he has ideas for expansion and suggested a work session to discuss plans.

“There may be some other opportunities that the county could look at and I’d like to get your opinion on it,” Roberson said to the board.

“I would love to be a part of that work session,” Board Vice President and District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery said.

Williams also expressed interest. Montgomery suggested the board make an inventory of space available and space needed.

“I think you’re right,” Montgomery said. “We do need to— like this courthouse and any other space we’ve got available— we just need to do a quick inventory on what offices are available.”

“Over the next couple of weeks could we try to get that together,” Montgomery continued. “That way we’ll know what we have, what we need.”

Roberson agreed with Montgomery and also suggested current county property, like the Oktibbeha County Jail, could be better utilized.

“I think that’s an excellent idea to get an idea of what we’ve got, but here’s the thing,” Roberson said. “We’ve got properties right now that I don’t think are giving us full bang for our county’s buck...And this might throw some people off but we have a jail facility that, in my opinion, is sitting on property more than what we’re using it for.”

The Oktibbeha County Jail is located on 111 Dr. Douglas L. Connor Dr., near downtown Starkville.

Williams made a motion to take Durngole-Ellis’ concerns under advisement and to continue to look for opportunities for office safety and space if available, which passed unanimously with Howard and Miller absent.