Desoto County News

Aldermen meeting briefs

Here’s a brief look at what happened at DeSoto County Board of Aldermen meetings Tuesday evening.  

OLIVE BRANCH: In his Mayor’s Update Tuesday, Mayor Ken Adams explained his reason to ask the Board of Zoning Adjustment to table a request from the DeSoto County School District for a conditional use permit allowing two portable buildings at the Career Tech Center-East campus. Adams wants to see a long-range plan from the school district to address older school buildings in Olive Branch that does not include trailers or portable classrooms.  

Adams compared the two career-tech campuses, the West Campus in Horn Lake and the East Campus in Olive Branch, stating the passage of a 2004 referendum for a $115 million bond to build the Horn Lake campus was done in part to get students out of portable classrooms. He also noted that while the Horn Lake campus is more than 51 acres in size, the Olive Branch East campus sits on just 1.5 acres with the main structure dating back to as early as 1976-1978 and has two portable buildings, one placed in 2014 and the other five years later.  

Adams’ request to the district is not just for Career Tech-East, however. He wants to see a long-range plan for several older school buildings in Olive Branch, from the middle school built in 1949, to listing other buildings, such as Olive Branch Intermediate, Olive Branch Elementary, Chickasaw Elementary, Olive Branch High School, Pleasant Hill Elementary, and Center Hill High School, Overpark Elementary and Center Hill Middle School.  The mayor appeared before the school board last September asking for the long-range plan, which had been passed by the Board of Aldermen. He wants to see what the school board has planned for his city’s older school buildings.  

The mayor observed that the planned Hernando High School is to be built at a cost of $85 million for the building and athletic facilities. A new Lewisburg Middle School was constructed for $21 million for the building and some athletics. An added game field and the cost of extending utilities to the site would put the actual cost of the project to over $25 million, Adams estimated.  

The mayor also is asking for two aldermen to volunteer to review and recommend donations from the city, since 11 organizations have made donation requests.  He noted the PERS employer rate increase of from 17.4 percent to 22.4 percent employer paid would mean an additional unbudgeted expense of $1.44 million to the city. Also, the airport reported a record 6,717 takeoffs and landings during the month of January. A lease with a tenant who plans to build a large aircraft hangar at the airport has been signed.  

SOUTHAVEN: Board members passed a resolution regulating future hotel buildings being built in the city. The conditional use permit places further restrictions and guidelines on the allowance of hotels in the city, said Planning Director Whitney Choat-Cook.  

“You have to identify what chain or flagship you are proposing to us, you have to support a feasibility market study from a nationally recognized company that identifies the need for this immediate area; not for the metro Memphis area or DeSoto County, but for the Southaven area, so we can see if it is needed for that specific area so we are not saturating the market, and it also allows for a two-year period for the conditional use permit.”

Choat-Cook said the two year restriction is meant to ensure a building is actually built on the site and protects against vacant land becoming blighted.  

“We found that people are moving forward and going ahead, putting a flag on a piece of property but do not build on it but they hold it for someone else to get here and that’s all it is used for,” Choat-Cook said. “This ensures that you have it done within two years and if not, we revoke it and you have to start from scratch, come back and submit it again.”  It amends Title XIII, Chapter 12, Section 13-12(m) Chart 4 Commercial Zone Districts in Southaven.  

Aldermen also passed an application from Gro-Mart Associates for design review approval of a new Scooters Coffee Shop, to be located on the south side of Goodman Road East, west of Malone Road.  

HERNANDO: A request to approve hiring seven additional part-time EMS drivers was approved as a means of having more drivers on a list to avoid paying firefighters overtime.  March 21 at 6 p.m. was set as a date for a public meeting that addresses redistricting in the city. A motion to purchase an ambulance under emergency purchase provision was passed as replacing the current ambulance is at a point where it needs to be done. Mayor Chip Johnson pointed out the city has had to borrow ambulances from nearby communities and Fire Chief Marshel Berry has been unsuccessful finding an ambulance under normal channels.  

Aldermen accepted the lowest/best bids for the Vaiden Avenue and Industrial Drive asphalt paving project at a cost of $613,778 to Double T Construction of Mt. Pleasant. Officials said the bid was within the budget for the project.  

Aldermen also approved a proclamation honoring former Alderman Walter “Gene” Norwood. Norwood, who passed away in November 2020, was a lifelong resident of Hernando and was active in the real estate business in DeSoto County for many years.  

HORN LAKE: Members of the Horn Lake Fire Department were recognized Tuesday night with its annual awards from Fire Chief David Linville.  The board also approved Alexander Thompson as an IT Technician with the city at an annual salary of $52,000.  

Fire department award winners are as follows:

  • Lieutenant of the Year – Shane Headley
  • Driver of the Year – Timothy Jones
  • Firefighter of the Year – Blake Turnmire
  • EMS of the Year – Colin Rueschhoff
  • Twenty Years of Service – Bradley Woods, Jeff Tidwell

In addition the Station 1 C Shift was recognized with an award for their performance in lifesaving measures during an incident on Nov. 1. Those members are: Lt. Jeff Tidwell, Driver Lee Chillis, FF/Paramedic Jerra Wade, Paramedic Pete Valsamis, and EMT Driver Pamela Busby.

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