Diamondhead incorporation hearing settles technicality

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Steve Phillips – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A one hour court hearing Tuesday afternoon on a "technicality" is the latest news in the ongoing push to make Diamondhead a city.

Residents who favor incorporation won a small victory, when the judge agreed they did have the required "proof of publication" as part of the court record. That portion of the court document was somehow missing in the file that was forwarded to the state supreme court.

Hancock County's chief chancery court clerk, Larrinell Scarborough, was the sole witness in the hearing before Judge Billy Bridges.

Attorney Jerry Mills, representing Diamondhead incorporation supporters, asked her about the original file, which did include the "proof of publication" that came up missing in the file before the supreme court.

"What date is that proof of publication filed?" asked attorney Mills.

"September 15, 2008," the clerk replied.

"And that was filed with your office among the official records of this court proceeding?" Mills questioned.

"That's correct," Scarborough responded.

Attorney for the appellants, William Kulick, questioned the seemingly sudden appearance of the documents in question.

"This is the first time that this document has appeared anywhere of record except for a docket sheet and mere reference to it at trial," he said.

Diamondhead residents from both sides of the issue attended the hour long hearing. Even though Judge Bridges ruled in favor of those seeking incorporation, representatives from both camps acknowledge this was a mere "technicality." They say the bigger issue remains to be settled.

"We feel we have an exceedingly strong case," said Chuck Ingraham, who favors incorporation. "We had better than 75 percent of the qualified electors residing in the area to be incorporated sign the petition. That, I believe, is fairly substantial, when you really need only two thirds."

Incorporation opponents challenge that assertion.

"We have many objections. One, that they're 429 signatures short. We have proof of that. This is only one little thing. It's going back to the supreme court now," said opponent John Fletcher.

Both sides expect it will be several months before the appeal process is over.

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