Ruben Chapel subject of eminent domain proceedings: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo MS),8/13/06

By Lena Mitchell

Negotiations have been under way for more than a year between Prentiss County [MS] and a church that stands in the path of lengthening the Booneville-Prentiss County Airport runway.

Having reached an impasse, county officials have begun eminent domain proceedings to acquire property where Ruben Chapel CME Church and a small cemetery now stand.

Trustees of the church have received papers summoning them to court in September, said the church’s pastor, Rev. Henry Damons Sr.

“We’re praying we do not have to go to trial, and that this be settled without going to court,” Damons said.

At issue is conflicting appraisals of the property by representatives for the county and the church.

The church’s appraiser, Jack Sabely of Pontotoc, has said the fair market value of the property is $285,000, although to rebuild will cost the church $340,000.

The latest offer the church received was $180,000 from attorney Tyler Moss on behalf of the county, and members of the church voted to not accept the offer.

“All we’re asking for is a fair market value, and they claim they don’t have the money to give us what we have as the appraised value,” Damons said.

Information was not immediately available as to what other property owners may be subject to the eminent domain proceedings.

However, Chancery Clerk Travis Childers said Friday that settlement had been reached with at least one other property owner earlier in the week.

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo MS): http://www.djournal.com