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OKTIBBEHA COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION v. TOWN OF STURGIS

SEPTEMBER 07, 1988

OKTIBBEHA COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION
v.
TOWN OF STURGIS, MS



BEFORE HAWKINS, P. J., GRIFFIN AND ZUCCARO, JJ.

ZUCCARO, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

In 1985, the Oktibbeha County Board of Education filed a complaint against the Town of Sturgis, Mississippi, seeking to remove clouds from the title to two parcels of sixteenth section land which the Board claimed had been unlawfully leased in 1945 for a 99-year term. The Chancery Court of Oktibbeha County, holding that the 1945 lease was valid, found in favor of the defendant Town of Sturgis. From that decision, the Oktibbeha County Board of Education appeals.

 FACTS

 On August 3, 1942, the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors resolved to lease, for a period of twenty-five years, Lots 4 and 8 of Block 14 of the Town of Sturgis, Mississippi, located in Section 16, Township 17 North, Range 12 East. Pursuant to its order, the Board of Supervisors for a consideration of $20.00 leased these parcels of land to S. C. Turner under a sixteenth section lease effective August 4, 1942, and terminating August 3, 1967. This lease was recorded on August 25, 1942.

 At the time of this 1942 lease, Section 211 of the Mississippi Constitution provided in part:

 The legislature shall enact such laws as may be necessary to ascertain the true condition of the title to the sixteenth section lands in this state . . . and shall provide that the sixteenth section lands reserved for the support of township schools shall not be sold, nor shall they be leased for a

 longer term than ten years for a gross sum; but the legislature may provide for the lease of any of said lands for a term not exceeding twenty-five years for a ground rental. payable annually . . . .

 (emphasis added). At the time of the lease, Section 6597 of the Mississippi Code of 1942, one of several statutes enacted under the mandate of Section 211 of the 1890 Constitution, similarly provided that sixteenth section lands within a city, town, or village "shall be leased . . . for a term not exceeding twenty-five years, on condition of the payment annually of the rents reserved." (emphasis added).

 Effective February 4, 1944, Section 211 of the Mississippi Constitution was amended to read as follows:

 The Legislature shall enact such laws as may be necessary to ascertain the true condition of the title to the Sixteenth Section lands in this state, . . ., and shall provide that the Sixteenth Section lands reserved for the support of township schools shall not be sold nor shall they be leased for a longer term than ten years for lands situated outside municipalities and for lands situated within municipalities for a longer term than 99 years, for a gross sum; provided further that existing leases of the Sixteenth Section lands situated in the municipalities of the state may, for a gross sum, be extended for a term of years not exceeding 99 years from the date of such extension, . . . .

 (emphasis added). The legislature did not amend Section 6597 of the Mississippi Code, however, until April 10, 1946, at which time Section 6597 was changed, by authority of the amended Section 211 of the Constitution, to provide that sixteenth section lands within a municipality could be leased for a term not exceeding ninety-nine (99) years. General Laws of Mississippi 1946, Ch. 443, 1.

 On October 11, 1945, S. C. Turner and his wife conveyed to A. P. Jackson their interest in the two parcels of land which were the subject of their sixteenth section land lease. This conveyance was recorded on October 18, 1945.

 On December 4, 1945 - after Section 211 of the Constitution had been amended, but while Section 6597 of the Mississippi Code of 1942 still provided for a maximum lease term of twenty-five years - the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors resolved to lease, and did lease, the same two parcels of land, Lots 4 and 8, to Parker Jackson (A. P.

 Jackson) for a period of 99 years, beginning December 4, 1945. (This is the same Mr. Jackson to whom the Turners had earlier conveyed their interest in the two lots.) The two parcels were leased to Mr. Jackson for a total of $55.00 ($40.00 for Lot 4 and $15.00 for Lot ...


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