Poultry farm opponents hold fundraising fall fest

McComb native and recording artist La Porsha Renae, above, and ‘Miz Tiffany’ Coleman McGee of ‘Empire’ fame will be in Progress on Saturday.

Opponents of a proposed Progress chicken farm will hold a fall festival Saturday to raise funds to continue their fight.

The Concerned Citizens of Progress fall festival will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 7050 Osyka-Progress Road next to Eddie’s Shop. Admission is $10, free for kids 10 and under.

There will be a deejay, vendors, kids activities, giveaways, raffles, community service providers and entertainment by “Miz Tiffany” Coleman-McGee, La’Porsha Renae and others.

La’Porsha is a singer, songwriter and “American Idol” star from McComb. “Miz Tiffany” is an “Empire” star, author, songwriter and award-winning urban gospel rap artist.

There will also be local church and gospel groups. People are asked to bring lawn chairs. No outside food is allowed.

Residents are protesting plans by Le Poultry to build eight chicken houses at 1159 Pumping Station Road.

In May, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Permit Board approved permits allowing Le Poultry to proceed. But a group of Progress residents appealed, and the board will hold an evidentiary hearing 9 a.m. April 9 at DEQ headquarters in Jackson.

Billy Ray Magee and Pauline Simmons Magee requested the hearing and were joined by Bertha Mae Amaker, Frederick Varnado, Kathleen Varnado, Laura Varnado, Lee Varnado, Teresa Varnado, Robert Varnado and Denise Weatherspoon.

“The fall fest is a fundraising activity,” said Billy Ray Magee. “What it is help paying the attorney fee to help raise money for the upcoming hearing.”

Representing the residents is attorney Jeffery P. Reynolds of Jackson.

“The Permit Board allows the presentation of direct testimony and rebuttal testimony in an evidentiary hearing by the filing of written pre-filed testimony which is usually submitted in affidavit form,” said a letter from DEQ general counsel Roy Furrh on the matter.

The letter sets out a time line for submission of documents, starting in February.

“Right now the lawyers are putting together the program, and we’re going to have some expert witnesses testifying as to what kind of diseases and the effects of having it so close to a residential area,” Magee said.

He said opponents tried to negotiate with Le and purchase the 80 acres in question, but “he asked 210 percent more than appraised value. We tried to do that with mediation and it didn’t work — his lawyer, our lawyer and a mediator — so we’re going to go ahead and follow through with the itinerary.”

Magee said the opponents are also accepting donations through their website, stoplepoultry.com.

For more information on the festival, call Denise Weatherspoon at 601-810-0399 or T. Smith at 601-395-1792.

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