By Kenny Goode
The pastor of a small, predominantly black, church in the Frankstown community said his congregation is prepared to fight eminent domain proceedings when the issue comes before a judge next month in Booneville at the Prentiss County Courthouse.
Court date is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 18 at 9 a.m. Plaintiff in the case will be Prentiss County.
“And we have retained Attorney Steve Farese of Ashland to represent us,” said the Rev. Henry Da-
mons of Ruben Chapel Church. The county will be represented by Attorney Frank Russell of Tupelo. Rev. Damons said the 240-member congregation of Ruben Chapel Church is resigned that their church, which was founded an estimated 80 years ago, will likely have to move to another location so the runway at the Booneville-Baldwyn Airport can be extended 1,000 feet. “Even though the church was there first and even
though it means some of the congregation’s deceased loved ones in the adjacent cemetery will have to be disinterred and moved elsewhere.”
He said the church has been a focal point in the community since 1925 with even earlier records indicating members attended church services nearby in a building known as the Lincoln School, which no longer exists.
Rev. Damons continued, “We also disagree on what Prentiss County officals are trying to give us, monetarily, for the property. We’d rather lose the church in court than to give it to these people who are supposed to represent all of Prentiss County.”
The minister said, if and when the church relocates closer to Baldwyn, the money offered by the county would not be enough to construct a new church. “We will be going into debt by probably $150,000 because of having to move.”
News of eminent domain proceedings were announced in a press release last week from Glen Green, president of the Prentiss County Board of Supervisors.
Rev. Damons said it was his understanding that quite a number of landowners were less than pleased with the amounts they received but he could only speak for Ruben chapel Church.
“The law states the government has to give a fair market value and as County Board Attorney Joey Langston has stated so eloquently,’A fair market value is a fair market value in the hearts and minds of the jury’.”
He added, “I think the elected officials are trying to sell to the public that this is the right thing to do all in the name of progress. But, it’s not… It only benefits a few so we’ll leave it up to a jury.”
In his opinion, Ruben Chapel’s minister said he does not foresee any great amount of industry being brought into this area by the extension of the runway airports are the county needs to fill the in-
dustry facilities it already has first.”
The minister said perhaps the greatest issue, rather than getting enough money to rebuild, is regarding the removal of graves, which he estimates to be about 12
he added, “At the start of this, the negotiators wanted us to remove the graves. Some of those are unmarked and have been there a long time. You are talking about caskets which will have deteriorated and, in some cases, there will be nothing left but bones. It is going to be a horrific challenge.”
And he disputes the county’s figures regarding number of affected graves and predicts if the project goes forth, that some unmarked graves are even likely to be blacktopped over by the runway itself.
He said all aspects will ultimately be aired in court – including his allegations that many of those involved in the proceedings have had a personal conflict of interest.
He concluded, “That is what we are going to do. I could not sleep at night if we allowed the county to bulldoze this congregation.”
ROM- This get’s worse and worse for Travis Childers the more we uncover, thanks to the great investigative reporting by BarneyFife.
The Banner-Independent is tough to find online so we appreciate that hard work finding this article, this is a killer, the pastor is on record saying that this expansion only benefits a few.
Travis Childers was the Chancery Clerk and Joey Langston was the Board Attorney. We have previously established their friendship, the fact that they were business partners and we have a lot of emails ect. that encourage us to keep digging because there is no doubt from the people of Prentiss county that this proceeding was pre-arranged and Langstons “gift” was the same kind of payoff that he is now infamous for.
Scumbags the lot of em.