North Lee negotiator brings baggage with Tupelo

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djournal-lee-countyBy Robbie Ward

Daily Journal

TUPELO – North Lee County Water Association’s board president brings a less than pleasant history with the city of Tupelo as detailed negotiations begin this week related to providing water service to annexed areas.

Terry Anderson, board president, filed a lawsuit against the Tupelo Regional Airport Authority after his termination as airport executive director in 2009, claiming age discrimination and violation of his First Amendment rights.

Four-member negotiation teams with North Lee water association and the city of Tupelo will likely meet Thursday to discuss the city’s desire to provide water service to areas annexed in 2012, territory served now by the rural water association.

Anderson currently waits for the 5th U.S. District Court of Appeals in New Orleans to rule on his appeal after a U.S. district judge in Mississippi said Anderson did not prove his claims.

Anderson, 68, makes the distinction between the city and the city’s airport authority when discussing his lawsuit. However, he chuckled Thursday when asked about his position negotiating with the city and his lawsuit appeal.

“It’s not nearly as strange as I expected because the administration is different,” he said.

As Anderson discussed the worst-case scenario for the water association related to possible outcomes with the city, he mentioned North Lee losing all customers in territory annexed by Tupelo and receiving no compensation in return. He acknowledges this as improbable but doesn’t rule it out.

He later sounded skeptical that Tupelo officials would enter negotiations willing to provide North Lee what it requires to agree with the city’s wishes.

“I’m not so sure North Lee is getting a fair shake in this,” he said. “But maybe we are. For this to work, both sides needs to see each other’s perspective.”

robbie.ward@journalinc.com