Advocate group works to keep Rankin Multi-Purpose Pavilion - - Jackson, MS

Advocate group works to keep Rankin Multi-Purpose Pavilion

BRANDON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

"I train horses for a living. In the winter months especially, this facility has been great that I can keep doing my job," says Carrie Thompson, who has been training barrel horses at the Rankin County Multi-Purpose Pavilion on Marquette Road in Brandon for decades.

Right now, the Multi-Purpose Pavilion in Brandon is maintained by Rankin County. But those who use it, including local professionals in the horse and livestock world, plan to ask the County to turn it over to them.

Brandon's mayor wants to turn the equine structure into an indoor sports venue. But he won't do that until the County makes a decision.

Thompson and other members of the group 'Let's be Neighbors' say it's a misconception that the Pavilion is only used for horse riding as a hobby. Many of them hold and attend livestock shows there, or have built their careers in the agriculture industry there.

"We don't compete in the building one time a year, in a 3 or 4 month period. These children, adults, professionals compete and ride, exercise their equine athletes here on a regular basis," says Ellen Morgan, a professional rider and horse enthusiast who helped organize the group. "It's 12 months out of the year this building is being utilized."

"I was on the original board to have this building built," says Deborah Tucker, an agriculture advocate who says the original intent of the 15-year-old building needs to be preserved.

"When you're raised in an agriculture, farm, county, rural area, your number one sport is probably equine related, cattle related. Our intent in the beginning was to look out for the future of that in the county," Tucker says.

'Let's be Neighbors' members plan to attend this week's Rankin County Board of Supervisors meeting, to oppose any plan to turn the facility over to the City of Brandon to be incorporated into its sports complex plan. They're asking the County to work with them, to avoid hurting the livestock and agriculture community.

"They want to re-build a facility. That to us, as 4-H, FFA, taxpayers, that is not being good stewards of what we have," Morgan says. "We are proposing that this Board of Supervisors introduce the idea or receive us as their committee, that we would manage (the Pavilion) as volunteers so it can be better organized and better promoted to do a better job for our taxpayers."

The Rankin County Board of Supervisors meet Thursday morning at 9.

RELATED STORY: Brandon Mayor eyes sports complex development

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