Residents worry confrontation could hurt progress in Lake George - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Residents worry confrontation could hurt progress in Lake George discussions

The confrontation reportedly began because of issues with the proposed water shed project. (Photo source: submitted) The confrontation reportedly began because of issues with the proposed water shed project. (Photo source: submitted)
HURLEY, MS (WLOX) -

A disagreement at Tuesday's public forum to discuss the Lake George Project led to a physical confrontation between three people. Now, some fear that any goodwill made between the project's supporters and those who oppose it may be destroyed.

The altercation at the community meeting began over mixed opinions on the project's proposed water shed. However, witnesses and one of the those involved in the fight say that the three individuals at the center of this incident have had multiple issues in the past.

Well-known real estate agent Mark Cumbest appears to reach toward former Jackson County Supervisor candidate Sabrina Smith. The video then shows Smith slapping him. Afterward, Smith's father Eddie Manning appears to hit Cumbest.

Manning, who has been heavily involved in helping Singing River Health System protesters fight for their pension plan recovery, said he has been tired of the supervisors' “underhanded methods," which he dates back to the beginning of the retirees' dispute.

According to Manning, he reacted in the "spur of the moment to protect his daughter."

"I wish it hadn't have happened," said Manning, referring to the physical altercation.

According to witnesses, there has been bad blood between Smith and Mark Cumbest since she campaigned against his cousin, Barry Cumbest, in the Jackson County Board of Supervisors' race. Barry Cumbest is currently a county supervisor and is a well-known supporter of the Lake George project.

Many at the meeting agreed that progress was being made before the altercation brought discussions to an end.

“If you could extract these three guys, we were having an excellent meeting,” said Cisco Aguilar. “This kind of behavior unfortunately destroyed the feeling that anything was good in there. People, I think, left out of there, like, cheated.”

Aguilar said while he has also had problems with the supervisors regarding the pension plan, this kind of behavior is unacceptable.

“I don’t think this is the way to do it,” said Aguilar. “If they have a problem -- a personal problem -- they need to resolve it somewhere else."

No one was arrested at the scene, and no charges have been filed in justice court so far, however, those involved can file anytime during the next two years.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell urged calm, but stated he would have a deputy present at future meetings.

“Tempers can flare and it does happen. We would just ask that folks let the system work,” said the sheriff. “Let's just be calm here, and let's just wait and see how things turn out.”

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