The Yalobusha Historical Society held its monthly meeting November 20 in its headquarters, the Presbyterian Church in Coffeeville. There were 38 members and guests present, representing six counties. We are always happy to have visitors, and all meetings are open to the public.
There will be no formal program for the December meeting. It will be our Christmas social and musical program, given by our “Society Songbird,” Jackie Weibley of Grenada, accompanied by Sonny Hubbard, also of Grenada.
President Mike Worsham welcomed everyone, especially the visitors. Chaplain John Moorman spoke the opening prayer. Mike reported on the death of one of our longtime members, Maj. Gen. Gray Harrison, of Jackson, formerly of the Oakland area.The Society sends condolences to the entire Harrison family. The Society sends get-well wishes to other longtime members, Lenora Fly of Grenada, and to Eddie Nelson of Water Valley. They would be present if their health permitted. It was good to have Tom Moorman back, after his serious fall a few weeks ago.
Mike spoke of the meeting of the Board of Directors, just prior to the meeting. The Society is paying utilities and insurance on its former quarters on the corner of Depot and Front St., and the Board is working on plans to dispose of the property. More information will be available later. The Society has received inquiries about the use of its current headquarters for functions not related to the Society. The Board re-affirmed the conditions set forth in the Deed from the Presbytery of North Miss. that the building be used only for archives, a library, Society meetings, and for weddings, funerals and religious activities by the former members of the Church.
Mike also spoke of the possibility of the membership dues being raised from $15.00 to $20.00 in 2009. Members are urged to pay dues, and to recruit new members, before January of 2009, at the current rate. The Society depends on membership fees, and occasional memorial donations, for its finances. All correspondence may be sent to YHS, Box 258, Coffeeville, MS 38922.
Program Chairman Opal Wright introduced the day’s speaker, Dr. Sidney W. Bondurant, Grenada physician and our District 24 State Representative. The Bailey twins , Joan Bailey and Jean Kirk, were scheduled to do the program, but had to cancel at the last minute due to circumstances beyond their control. Dr. Bondurant graciously agreed to speak, and we are grateful that he re-arranged his schedule to accommodate us.
Dr. Bondurant was born in Philadelphia , Neshoba County , Mississippi and reared in Forest , where his parents still reside. He graduated from Miss. State University in 1968, with a degree in chemistry and received his MD degree from Vanderbilt University Medical School in 1971. He served as a medical officer assigned to the Navy Search and Rescue in Viet Nam and as a general medical officer with the Destroyer Squadron 12 in the Mediterranean and at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, SC. After his release from active duty, he returned to Vanderbilt Medical Center , where he completed specialty training in obstetrics and gynecology. He moved his practice to Grenada in 1985 to associate with Dr. Tom Holden at the Grenada Clinic for Women. In 2003, he ran for, and won, the District 24 seat in the Miss. House of Representatives. He represents parts of Grenada , Calhoun and Yalobusha Counties in the Legislature, and continues to practice obstetrics and gynecology in Grenada.
Dr. Bondurant spoke on ” A Preview of he 2009 Legislative Session,” and, being the very capable speaker that he is, he made this subject very interesting and informative.
The Legislature will convene in January, with the 2010 budget being the main issue facing them. Dr. Bondurant spoke of the possible means of raising money to cover the State’s expenses in the future, particularly the funding of the Medicaid program. The Federal Gov’t. currently pays $.75 of each dollar the state spends on Medicaid. The poorer the state, the more help it receives from the Federal Gov’t., and of course, the State is one of the poorest in the nation, in terms of income. Of course, raising taxes is an option, but Dr. Bondurant expects the only increase will be on tobacco products. . The current tax rate on a pack of cigarettes is 18 cents, and Dr. Bondurant explained the pros and cons of a hefty increase. Presently, surrounding states have a much higher rate, and many people from those states purchase tobacco products in our state, adding much money to the State coffers. If a new tax is in line with other states, they will buy in their own states, thus depriving Miss. of income from that source. A large tax increase would drive people from our state into the surrounding states, again cutting back on income from tobacco. Dr. Bondurant said that the increase is not expected to dramatically decrease the number of smokers . Some experts say there would be only a 4% or 5% decrease. Dr. Bondurant spoke of the school system as it exists presently, with all high school classes geared to teach students along the same line, whether they plan to go to college or not. He said that proposed changes call for more specialization in the schools, to benefit the college-bound students, and the ones who plan to enter the work force directly from school.
The current sales tax in Miss. is 7%, but food service businesses collect an additional penny, and hotels, an extra two cents. Dr. Bondurant spoke of a program in some states called “MOST’ which stands for Municipal Option Sales Tax, whereby a municipality can impose a higher rate than the rest of the state, but Miss. does not have that law. Some cities, however, have a tourism tax that brings in revenue from taxes on restaurants and motels. A unique law that our State does have is the “Castle law,” which concerns home invasions. In the past, a homeowner could be prosecuted for shooting an intruder, but, under this law, that is no longer the case.
The 2009 session of the Legislature will see a push by some parties to lower the legal ‘drinking age’ from 21 to 18. (Dr. Bondurant is not in favor of changing it)
Dr. Bondurant spoke of the possibility of lowering the state income tax rate. Currently, the rate is 3% on the first $5,000.00 of taxable income, 4 % on the next $5,000.00, and 5% on all over $10,000.00. He is drafting a bill that calls for 3% on the first $10,000.00, 4 % on the next $10,000.00, and 5 % over $20,000.00.
Dr. Bondurant spoke of the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina which hit the Gulf Coast August 29, 2005. causing millions of dollars in damage to our state. He spoke of the thousands of former residents of the Coastal area who have been unable to rebuild because they can’t get insurance. The Legislature will continue its efforts to help them obtain insurance coverage. He spoke of the way bills drawn up, the committees and many other interesting aspects of our state government. We are most grateful to Dr. Bondurant for once again bringing us an excellent program.
A lively Q & A session followed the program, and among the questions asked was about the State’s retirement fund. Dr. Bondurant said that very little of the fund was invested in the suprime area, where failures caused so much grief. Much of the retirement fund is in stock investments, but Dr. Bondurant feels that there will be no decrease in retirement checks. All in all, the State’s economic state is not as bad as the nation as a whole, and he is very optimistic of the future of our great State of Mississippi. Our lawmakers in Jackson have a daunting task ahead of them, however, and we do appreciate the work our Governor, Senators, Representatives and others in our State government.
ATTENDING: John Moorman, Pat Brooks, Betty R. Miller, Joy Herron, Mike Worsham, Peggy Boyett, Opal Wright, Ruth Upchurch, Rina Chaney, Ben A. Harris, Tom and Alma Moorman, Dr. S. W. Bondurant, Ray Cox, James Person, Edward and Rosemary Woodall, Hugh Bill and Alice McGuire, Kathryn French, Kay F. Rodick, Dot Criss, Sarah H. Williams, Jimmie Pinnix, Richard Crenshaw, Dot Baker, Dave Hovey, Herschel and Sarah Saucier, Alice G. Landreth, Jean M. Scobey, Pauline Hughes, Ruth Richmond, Robert and Nancy Barton, Thelma Rae Harbour, Helen Jones and John Gwin, Jr.
Betty R. Miller