By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – A stalled bridge replacement project located on County Road 2 near Tillatoba remains in the limelight after a landowner demanded public apology from supervisors.
“Y’all chopped me up pretty good last month in the paper,” Mark Hartley told supervisors during the “first Monday” supervisor meeting held in Coffeeville on May 4. Hartley was referring to newspaper coverage of an April meeting where he and his cousin, David Hartley, were publicly named as not signing and returning necessary paperwork, which had stalled the project.
“I have been living in Yalobusha County all of my life and I am as much for progress as anybody,” Hartley said. “What is was, there was a mix-up on some deeds and my family did not do some stuff right way back yonder. Mr. Crow brought it to our attention. My cousin’s land undoubtedly wasn’t just exactly right and his lawyer said it was. It is an argument about whose lawyer is right,” Hartley explained.
“When it was put in the paper it was said I haven’t signed any documents, but I have signed the documents and I got most of them right here,” Hartley said, exhibiting several envelopes.
At issue for Hartley was the fact that nine other family members had also not signed the deeds to transfer the property to the county at the time of the April meeting. Hartley also said he did not get the latest paperwork until mid-April, which was after the meeting.
“I do think y’all ought to, at least, put an apology in the paper to Mark Hartley saying he is not holding up the bridge project. I have had a Tillatoba address since I was born. I have never had another address, I am as much for Yalobusha County as anybody,” a passionate Hartley explained.
The bridge is located in District Five and Supervisor Bubba Tillman told Hartley that he had hand delivered papers to Hartley months earlier.
“There was a considerable amount of problem with the title,” Crow said, adding the county got resistance from family members after he told David Hartley about the problematic title.
“We are exactly on the money as far as the shape of that title. District Five has paid to correct your title, $3,000,” Crow said, addressing an earlier point made by Mark Hartley that his cousin’s attorney said the title was good.
Mark Hartley also told supervisors that he did not want to sell the property, but instead would give the county an easement to work on his property.
“I don’t want to sell it to you,” Hartley explained, adding that he did want to give the county an easement to work on the bridge and retain the property.
“We cannot go the easement route, the state will not allow it,” Crow answered.
“I still say, Mr. Crow, you owe me an apology for putting me in the paper like you did last month. I was not here to defend myself,” Hartley said. “Nobody has even said that Mark Hartley gave y’all everyone of those phone numbers to all of my kinfolks. I have not resisted. The only thing I held up on just a little bit was about my cousin’s deed, and his lawyer was telling him his deed was fine. I said, maybe I need to talk with him (the lawyer) about it,” Mark Hartley said.
“We have gotten resistance from your family, from you and your cousin and everybody else,” Crow said, adding that he nor the board owed Hartley an apology.
Crow also told Mark Hartley that he had recommended to Tillman to use eminent domain when the county first started on the bridge project instead of working through all of the property owners involved with the land because of the “cloudy” title.
“Mr. Tillman said nope, I don’t want to do that,” Crow continued. “This board bent over backwards trying to deal with the Hartley family.”
“You’ve got a lot more to deal with than Mark Hartley,” Mark Hartley responded.
“That’s correct, you’ve got a large family,” Crow answered.
Mark Hartley handed two of the three signed deeds to county officials.
“As soon as your other family finds out that you took care of this, you and David, they will move on this pretty quick, that was the hold-up,” Tillman said.
“Maybe my hesitation might have slowed some of them up,” Mark Hartley answered. The third set of papers that Mark Hartley brought to the meeting had an incorrect name that was corrected and was delivered to county officials after the meeting.
Other business conducted in the meeting included:
• Authorized the use of the Multi-purpose Building for a July 18 wrestling match at the request of Shelia Willard. The match would raise money for the county’s Relay For Life fundraiser, and various teams will help provide manpower for the event, according to Willard.
Willard’s request for the county to waive the rental fee was not approved after Board Attorney John Crow told supervisors that he would have to check in to the legalities. Instead, county officials passed the hat, starting with a $25 donation from Circuit Clerk Daryl Burney, to pay the $120 rental feet
Willard left the meeting with $177, and the money not used for the rental fee will be part of the donation to Relay For Life.
• Approved a request from Justice Court Judge Steve Riley to attend the Mississippi Justice Court Judges Association Convention at the Hollywood Resort at Bay St. Louis. The convention will be held July 12 – 16, and the total cost for the trip will be $671.
• Approved the travel request for Frank Hyde to attend the state’s 911 Summer Training Seminar on June 14 – 17, at the IP Resort in Biloxi. The total cost for the trip will be $647.
• Approved the travel request for George Rounsaville to attend Veteran Service Officer School in Tupelo on May 13 – 15. The approval covered a two-night hotel stay at $55.50, a $35 registration fee plus meals and mileage.
• Approved an application from Fly Timber to exceed posted weight limits on County Road 216 and 211 in District Four while hauling logs.
• Authorized a budget line item transfer after Yalobusha Sheriff Lance Humphreys requested that $3,000 be shift from the equipment line item and $3,000 be shifted from the housing prisoners out of county fund. The $6,000 transferred will be allocated for labor.
• Renewed a resolution concerning the ability of Yalobusha General Hospital to borrow an amount not to exceed 10 percent of gross revenues.
This agreement is necessary for funding the new medical complex currently under construction.