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Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014

Egyptian detainee released

Friday, December 7, 2001

CHARLESTON - "Osama is in Alexandria, Egypt," said Don Chance, Mississippi County Detention Center administrator.

Chance informed county commissioners during Thursday's county commission meeting that Osama El Far, 30, formerly of University City, left for St. Louis Dec. 4 to catch a flight taking him to New York and then Cairo, Egypt, to reach his home.

El Far had waged a hunger strike while in the Mississippi County jail to protest his detention while waiting to voluntarily leave the country. He admitted to having illegally stayed in the country longer than allowed by his visa but denied any connection to the Sept. 11 attacks.

El Far was working as a mechanic at Lambert Airport in St. Louis before being detained Sept. 24 by federal agents for questioning regarding allegations made by a coworker that he called Osama Bin Laden a role model.

Chance also presented commissioners with a cash flow statement for the jail through November. Figures for the first 11 months show the jail to be operating "in the black," according to officials.

Notable among the figures was the county's share of money collected for long distance phone service provided by Evercom - $17,970 for 11 months.

In other county commission business:

* Mississippi County taxpayers will soon have even less room to argue over how much they owe.

Commissioners approved a program that will be used by both the assessor and the collector which itemizes personal property and the tax for each item on both the listing from the assessor and the tax bill statements issued by the collector.

With the information provided on the printouts, each taxpayer "knows exactly what he's paying personal property tax on," according to W.R. "Bill" Thompson, assessor.

"I'm all for it," said Jim Blumenberg, presiding commissioner. "I just think its a great idea."

"It's a fantastic program. It costs $3,000-$3,500," said Thompson. "Which I think is a little pricey."

Thompson said once the initial catalog information is entered the program "will be a time saver." In subsequent years only new values will have to be entered. "It'll be a joint effort to get the values in," said Thompson.

Thompson said unlike most computer programs purchased recently which come in a box and are installed from a disc, this program "was designed for your main frame (computer) system," said Thompson. "The programmer will actually type this program into our main frame."

Thompson said as Randolph County entered catalog data precisely as written in the state book, they may get the cost down by importing catalog data from Randolph County instead of manually entering it.

Faye Elliot, county collector, said the program will also be helpful for the License Bureau. "They'll know what you have," said Elliot.

* A public hearing for budget amendments was held. Although officials hope it will be the last adjustment of the year, a public meeting will also be set for the last county commission meeting of the year in case any final amendments must be made.

Junior DeLay, county clerk, said there were several budget arrangements made in December last year.

* Commissioners signed of on required documents for the county rural public water supply district's Community Development Block Grant application.

The $500,000 grant is "the final portion of the money" applied for to fund the rural water system, according to Blumenberg.

* Annette Robertson of Charleston was reappointed to another three-year term as the representative for Mississippi County on the Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation board.

Some information for this story was supplied by the Associated Press.