RESIDENTS TO GET VOTE IN RUNNING YELLOW CREEK
By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – The state House and Senate approved a bill Friday that would set up a nine-person committee made up of Northeast Mississippi residents to help run the Yellow Creek industrial site.
The bill, which passed on what was basically the last day of the legislative session, would establish a state-regional partnership to recruit industries for Yellow Creek, which was the previous site of at least three failed federal government projects.
Two similar bills earlier in the session got caught up in the legislative process and died. But there was no opposition in the House or Senate to the bill passed Friday.
“I think we have some hot (industrial) prospects up there,” Rep. Charlie Williams, D-Senatobia, said of Yellow Creek.
Located near Iuka, Yellow Creek has been the site of various federal projects that have fallen through during the past three decades. These dead projects included using the site as a nuclear power plant, as a National Aeronautics and Space Administration advanced solid-rocket motor plant and as a rocket nozzle plant.
The 1,200-acre site includes 27 buildings and millions of dollars in infrastructure.
Earlier this year, the federal government turned the site and $10 million for maintenance and management over to the state. The bill that was passed Friday sets up a Yellow Creek Project Fund where the federal money and any proceeds from the sale of parts at the site will be placed.
The site will be managed by the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development and the Yellow Creek Regional Project Board. A vote of six of the nine members of the board can override the Department of Economic and Community Development, which is the state’s industrial recruiting and economic development agency.
State Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he thought it would be unusual for the local board to veto DECD.
“But there is a great deal of concern by the people of the area that they have been dealt with from the top down,” he said, referring to the federal and state governments.
The board will be made up of three members from Tishomingo County. The governor, lieutenant governor and board of supervisors will have one appointment each from Tishomingo County.
Alcorn, Prentiss and Itawamba counties will have two appointments each to the board. All of those appointments will be made by the lieutenant governor and the boards of supervisors in each county.
“People are excited about what private business might do in the site,” said Sen. Travis Little, D-Corinth, whose district includes Yellow Creek.