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Port board delays decision on plea for Ceres space

[9/21/04]Members of the Warren County Port Commission asked for a proposed layout before considering a request to place a law enforcement pistol range on property at the Ceres Research and Industrial Interplex.

A delegation consisting of Sheriff Martin Pace and Undersheriff Jeff Riggs of the Warren County Sheriff’s Department and Rick Martin, operations officer for the Vicksburg National Military Park, made a presentation to the five-member port commission seeking approval to use an unused part of the industrial complex near Flowers for a range on which the sheriff’s department and park rangers could maintain their qualifications with handguns and certain other firearms.

Pace said his department formerly had to pay for memberships at a private range in Clinton for officer qualification. Now, they still have to drive to Hinds County, but are able to use the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department range at Raymond through an agreement with Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin.

Riggs told the commission the area they want to use is located just east of the sewage lagoons on the east side of Ceres. That way, part of the levee of the lagoon system could be used as one of the three required berms. Construction of only two berms would be required.

Pace pointed out the range, if built, would be open to use by law enforcement officers for training purposes only.

Riggs and Martin then said the park service has already talked to Sen. Thad Cochran, Mississippi’s senior senator, about the possibility of getting a $50,000 grant to help pay the costs.

“I can’t tell you we are going to get the money, but (Sen. Cochran) has worked hand-in-hand with the park,” Martin said.

Riggs, who is a member of the 168th Engineer Group of the Mississippi National Guard, said one of the units under the 168th’s control could do the dirt work as part of its summer training at no cost to the county.

“Before we decide, we want to pass this by our lagoon consultant,” said John Moss, commission chairman, adding the area being discussed for a range is the logical direction for any expansion of the lagoons.

Moss also asked the group to provide the commission with a possible layout for the range so safety questions could be assessed.

In other matters, the board:

Asked the commission staff to get additional quotes on removing a large pecan tree killed by lightning near the plantation house at Ceres.

Approved payments to Hemphill Construction Co. and Jimmy Gouras Urban Planners in closing out a road project at Ceres.

Agreed to a Mississippi Forestry Commission proposal to replant trees on land near the E.W. Haining Industrial Center where timber had been cut at an expense of $26,000.