TOTAL LOSS: The home of Robert and Joy Stephens of Oxford was destroyed by fire on February 8. Oxford and Franklin Fire Departments responded to the scene. No one was injured in the fire. The family of four lost everything in the fire, and donations for the family may be taken to Bailey’s Country Cookin in Melbourne, or Day’s Family Store in Oxford. A donation jar is set up at Jordan’s Kwik Stop and Red Mule in Melbourne. Immediate items needed are clothing in the following sizes, Mens shirt-2XL, pants 38-32; Women’s shirt XL; Boy size 12 shirt and pants; Girl size 10/12 shirts and pants; Girl 3T; Girl 9-12 month. Shoes needed are Girl, size 5 youth; Boy size 6 youth; Baby Girl size 7. Also needed immediately are Diapers size 3 and 4, Formula – Similac Advanced. Furnishings and household items are also needed. Photo/R.Sherrell

The Oxford City Council met November 2 and approved the purchase of a rescue vehicle by the Oxford Fire Department.
The meeting began at 7 p.m. with all council members present, along with Mayor Greg Stuart and Recorder/Treasurer Bonnie Moss.
Stuart reported on a possible purchase of a 2006 4×4 Chevy one ton. Fire Chief Alan Estes was unable to attend the meeting.
“The vehicle has work boxes on the sides and can haul a 350 gallon polytank,” said Stuart. The vehicle cost is $16,000 and is for sale at Campbell’s Auto Sales in Melbourne. “The fire department has $10,000 that can be used for the purchase, and still leave money in their account. They can borrow the remainder and make payments,” said Stuart. Councilman Billy McBride made a motion to approve the purchase of the vehicle by the fire department, seconded by Councilwoman Amy Stevenson. All council members unanimously approved the purchase.
Stuart told the council that a Rural Services Block Grant was available for up to $75,000, with a 10% match, that could be used for renovating the fire station, vehicles, equipment, protective clothing and other items. This grant would have to be submitted by an official grant writer. Council asked Stuart to find out costs associated with the grant, before pursuing the grant as an option to defray the cost of the vehicle.
Street and Water Reports were given by Superintendent Micah Walker. City workers have fixed two leaks, finished the Aquiar project, painted the pavilion at the city park, and cleaned and painted the concession stand. Minor repairs were done on nine sewer calls, and the sewer program is continuing. Walker reported he is waiting for the ground to settle at the culvert project on Campground Road, with more repair to the area. The new replacement fire hydrant has been received to be installed between Whispering Pines and Green Acres.

by Karen Sherrell
The former mayor of Oxford, Mike Warden, petitioned Izard County for reimbursement of taxes he paid, after it was discovered that his residence he claimed was located on city property, was actually located on a parcel outside of the city limits.
A recent reappraisal of properties in Izard County uncovered the fact that Warden’s home was listed on a different parcel than it was located, which meant he also did not meet the residential requirements to hold municipal office.
County Order 2013-37, was approved by Izard County Judge David Sherrell on October 14, to refund real estate taxes paid by Warden on the parcel listed in the city limits, but actually a rural parcel, for the years of 2010, 2011, and 2012. Personal property taxes paid were also refunded for 2010 and 2011, and a credit was issued for 2012. Warden petitioned the court for a refund of taxes which resulted in the difference between the Oxford city and rural millage, a total of 5 mils, or $325.85.
“The law says we can go back three years for a refund, and that’s what I did, follow the law,” stated Sherrell. Warden’s residence, built in 2001, was added to tax rolls that same year. Warden had petitioned the court to annex the property in 2002, but never followed through with the paperwork.
Warden resigned as mayor of Oxford on October 15, after meeting with council members in an executive session. He was elected in 2002 and served 11 years.

A recent reappraisal on properties in Izard County uncovered the fact that an elected official did not meet residential requirements to hold municipal office.
According to the Izard County Assessor’s office, during a reappraisal conducted in August of this year, a discrepancy was found on property owned by Mike Warden, mayor of Oxford. Warden’s residence, built in 2001, was added to the tax rolls in 2001, and was listed as sitting on property in the City of Oxford.
Only it wasn’t.
According to the city limit layer map, Warden’s home is located on a parcel outside of the city limits, not on city property.
“The city limit layer map shows he is rural,” stated County Assessor Tammy Sanders. “He was contacted sometime between August 28 and September 17 and told about the change.”
Once the discovery was made, Sanders checked with the county to see if the property had been annexed to the City of Oxford and if they had somehow missed it. It was then discovered that Warden had filed a petition for annexation of the property where his home actually sits, with County Clerk Rhonda Halbrook in March of 2002; however, he never followed through with the paperwork, filed as CO-2002-1.
“It was filed,” said Halbrook. “But nothing done afterwards.”
Warden filed for office that same year and was elected in November of 2002, and has served in the capacity of mayor for the city just shy of 11 years. Prior to the election, Warden served as Director of the Office of Emergency Services for Izard County in Melbourne, from December of 1998 through March of 2000.
The City Council of Oxford met for their monthly meeting on October 15, and discussed the residency issue with Warden in executive session after regular business was conducted.
Following the executive session, the meeting was adjourned with Alderman Mike Hall and Warden leaving the building immediately, before the audience could re-enter the council chambers. Council members told the 25+ audience members that Warden volunteered to resign.
“Well, does he live in the City of Oxford,” asked resident Phyllis McCurley, to which Alderman Randy Sherrell replied, “Warden says he does, but the county says he doesn’t.”
Warden resigned effective October 17.
Mike Hall resigned October 16.

An Oxford resident has been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a Violet Hill man on Tuesday, August 20.
Izard County officers were called to the scene of a shooting in the home of Mike Rush on Wideman Road in Oxford at 9:33 p.m. Rush, age 42, allegedly shot Ted Foreman, age 50 of Violet Hill with a .357 pistol. Foreman died of his wounds at the scene.
According to Izard County Sheriff Tate Lawrence, Rush and Foreman knew each other, and there are witnesses to the shooting.
Rush is being held at the Izard County Detention Facility pending investigation of the shooting according to Lawrence.

The Moss-Dockins Community Center in Oxford will have an Open House on Saturday, April 13.
The new community center located at Oxford City Park will have refreshments from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Everyone is invited to come and see the new addition to the community.

Brandi Leigh Holt, 26, of Violet Hill was arrested September 7 and charged with Delivery of Methamphetamine and Delivery of a Controlled Substance near a public park in Izard County.
Holt is accused of selling methamphetamine, during a controlled buy at the Oxford City Park.
Holt is facing similar charges out of Fulton County and is being held in the Izard County Detention Facility with bond amounts of $10,000 for Izard County and $10,000 for Fulton County. The arrest was a cooperative effort between the Izard County Sheriff’s Department and the 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force.

The city of Oxford will be holding a pre-bid meeting for the proposed community building project, on Thursday, August 16 at 2 p.m. at city hall on Hwy. 9 in Oxford. Mayor Mike Warden announced the meeting at the August 13 council meeting. Project engineer and WRAA will be at city hall to assist any  contractors wishing to ask questions and interested in bidding on the project.

Bid opening will be August 23 at 2 p.m. at Oxford City Hall.