Union County owns part of building that burned Tuesday morning, June 25

New Albany MS Thomas furniture fire building partly owned by Union Co.
An enormous fire destroyed Thomas Furniture and other buildings on June 25.
June 30th, 2019     Government & Politics


New Albany MS-A substantial part of the building that burned in a spectacular fire Tuesday morning, June 25, belongs the Union County government. It is unclear at this time how much of the property belongs to the county.

Members of the Union County board of supervisors, the county chancery clerk and the county board’s attorney tried last week to sort out the facts and determine the county’s standing in the fire.

The story started in 1958 during the administration of Governor James Plemon “J.P.” Coleman, the state’s 52nd governor. Coleman and others promoted an “economic growth” plan called “Balance Agriculture With Industry” ((BAWI). Under the BAWI, county governments were allowed to sell revenue bonds, build factory buildings and lease those facilities to companies that would use them for manufacturing.

In 1958 an organization referred to as “NMEMCO” went into an agreement with the then Union County Board of Supervisors to construct and equip a building north of New Albany on the east side of Highway 15. The county sold the bonds, built the building, and leased the property to NMEMCO for a nominal rental of $750 per year. There was a voter referendum at the time authorizing the arrangement.

NMEMCO, the forerunner of what became known as Piper Industries started making metal extrusions in the facility, using large hydraulic presses to form sheet steel into usable shapes.

The bonds were long ago paid off and, according to District Three Supervisor David Kitchens, the lease payments to this day have been $750 per year.

The lessee under the agree was required to pay for insurance, maintenance, etc.

The manufacturing operation went through multiple ownership changes over the last 60 years.

The current lessee on the property is an entity called Jasper Creek, LLC, said by county officials to be owned by Randy and Butch Cobb.

Over the decades, the original building has been enlarged and added onto many times. Part of the structure that burned is on land still owned by the county. Part of it is on land owned by Jasper Creek, LLC. Thus the confusion about how much of the destroyed structures belonged to Union County.

The bonds having long ago paid off, it would appear that the taxpayers of Union County may have no legal exposure in the loss of the building, and have not suffered any significant loss.

Over one-million gallons of water were used to extinguish the fire, believed to be among the biggest blazes ever in Union County.

One source told NAnewsweb.com that Thomas Wholesale Furniture had inventory in the building worth several hundred thousand dollars.

Original NAnewsweb.com story about Thomas Wholesale Furniture fire.

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