The Prentiss County Agricenter is set to begin hosting events once again.
Supervisors voted Monday to allow events to again be held at the center at the request of director Kevin Gates. A resolution adopted by the board reopens the agricenter to both public and private events and requires all such events to abide by all CDC guidelines and all orders issued by the governor regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The move reopens the center which hasn’t hosted any public events since supervisors voted last year to stop events there due to restrictions related to the pandemic.
Gates said he’s had numerous requests regarding hosting events including the annual fair and carnival, rodeos, concerts and others. He said he looks forward to again putting the center to use and said he will take every possible step to ensure all activities are in compliance with all applicable guidelines and restrictions.
The board tabled for further consideration a request from the county election commission to combine the Thrasher and Agricenter voting precincts into a single precinct that would vote at the agricenter.
Commissioner Barbara Shackelford said the commission has long been looking for a suitable site to move the Thrasher precinct off the Thrasher school campus. Even prior to the pandemic commissioners had been looking to relocate the precinct due to issues with traffic and access at the only precinct in the county still located on a school campus. She said principal Kenny Sparks and his staff have been very accommodating but it’s just not a good situation having the precinct on campus. They have had no success in locating a suitable location to move the voting site with adequate parking, handicap access and other requirements within the precinct.
Last fall voters in the Thrasher precinct cast ballots at the Agricenter in the November general election due to issues related to the pandemic and having additional people on the school campus. However, the precincts remained separate with voters in each precinct voting in a separate location on the agricenter grounds.
Circuit Clerk Mike Kelley explained there is a difference of opinion on state law regarding whether a voting location can be physically located outside the geographical boundaries of the precinct. It was allowed last fall due to the pandemic but the Secretary of State’s office says such a move will not be legal moving forward. However, Kelley said there is an Attorney General’s Office opinion that indicates it would be allowed.
He said in order to comply with the Secretary of State’s rule they are asking to combine Thrasher into the Agricenter precinct creating a single Agricenter precinct in which all voters would vote at the center.
“It’s just an ideal location,” said Shackelford.
District 1 Supervisor James Ray Plaxico said he wants to research and consider the issue further before the board takes action.
“I’m not totally against it at all, but give me some time to think about it and talk to some folks,” he said.
The idea was tabled for further consideration at a future meeting.