Members of the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors Monday morning, Dec. 16, heard from a group of citizens concerned their weekly social gatherings at the county’s senior citizens center in Southaven were being broken up by a band wanting to play there once a month.
About a dozen residents came and said they use the Brookhaven Community Center, 1280 Brookhaven Drive in Southaven, every Saturday night as a gathering place and have done that for some time.
However, another group approached county officials and an agreement was made that has that group holding dances at the county-owned building on the first Saturday of the month, starting in January. This group has held events at a center in Senatobia.
The long-standing gathering group fears the intrusion will break up what has become a tradition of meeting and fellowship. Music has also been a part of the weekly events held at Brookhaven.
“We have fellowship, we bless the food and the first Saturday of the month is our Food Night,” one citizen told supervisors. “It was a blow to us that it was taken from us. If you bring in another band, this group will lose its fellowship.”
Supervisor Bill Russell, set to retire from the board at the end of the year, acknowledged there is no contract in place with the DeSoto County senior citizens who brought their concerns to the board.
“But to me, it’s just common sense,” Russell pointed out. “These folks are from here and they use the facility. To me, they ought to have the right of first refusal. There are four other nights a week this building is available for somebody else.”
Russell added the weekly group has paid their bill for the Brookhaven center so that has not been the issue.
Board attorney Tony Nowak did add that the building has to be equally accessible to whoever wants to use it and board president Lee Caldwell said some agreement needs to be in place.
It was determined that a committee be formed to more closely look into the issue.
In the morning portion of the meeting, board members were also introduced to the county’s new Veterans Service Officer Robert Peeler.
“I want to provide quality service for our veterans,” the Olive Branch resident said. “There’s a lot of veterans out there who don’t know their benefits. I have Vietnam veterans who have never filed for anything in their life as far as disability compensation. A lot of their stuff is a result of Agent Orange and they have no idea.”
Peeler pointed out the lack of knowledge about service availability to veterans is a major issue. He is a veteran himself, having served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Peeler’s office is on the second floor of the DeSoto County Administration Building in Hernando, where he can be found Monday-Wednesday. His remaining time during the week is spent at the VA Hospital.
Peeler’s office phone number is 662-449-2811 and he can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.