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Jones Co. supervisors support Pat Harrison move

By: The Associated Press
April 14, 2014 Updated: April 14, 2014 at 4:31 pm
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LAUREL, Miss. (AP) — The Pat Harrison Waterway District's proposal to move its headquarters from Forrest County to the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport has the support of the Jones County Board of Supervisors.

The Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/1m1saVK ) supervisors voted this past week to support the relocation.

Gene Pickering from the PHWD said the waterway district will sell its headquarters building in Hattiesburg and acquire an acre of land at the Laurel-Hattiesburg Regional Airport off Interstate 59 where they will place a metal building and move in their 20 employees.

Three counties — Forrest, Jasper and Lamar — voted last year to leave the waterway district. Officials in the three counties argue they have put money in the district but have seen little benefit.

A lawsuit over issues related to those decisions is pending before the Mississippi Supreme Court. The waterway district argues the counties have a contractual obligation to maintain the nine waterparks in the Pat Harrison system "into perpetuity."

The Pat Harrison Waterway District was established in 1962 to provide flood control services in southeastern and east central Mississippi. The agency is funded through property taxes collected in each of its 15 member counties. If the three counties are allowed to withdraw, the remaining members would be Clarke, Covington, George, Greene, Jackson, Jones, Lauderdale, Newton, Perry, Smith, Wayne and Stone.

Over the years, the waterway district has extended its services to include the management of nine water parks. They are: Archusa Creek Water Park in Clarke County, Big Creek Water Park in Jones County, Dry Creek Water Park in Covington County, Dunn's Fall Water Park in Stone County, Little Black Creek Water Park in Lamar County, Maynor Creek Water Park in Wayne County, Okatibbee Water Park in Lauderdale County, and the Turkey Creek Water Park in Newton County.

Since 1999, state law has allowed any county to withdraw from the waterway district following an independent audit to determine the county's share of "bonds, contractual obligations, and any other indebtedness or liabilities of the district that are outstanding on the date of such county's withdrawal."

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Information from: The Chronicle, http://www.thechronicle.ms

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