By Alexandra Hedrick, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing after the regular meeting Monday morning to discuss the realignment of the southern portion of Richardson-Ozona Road and its intersection with U.S. Highway 11.
Pearl River County has been working on the realignment of Richardson-Ozona Road for about six months. The construction phase of the project is expected to begin in eight months and take about a year to complete, said Les Dungan, county engineer.
“Around this time next year, we are hopeful the road will be open,” Dungan said.
The reason for the realignment is to provide a safer intersection with U.S. Hwy. 11. By aligning the new realigned road with the new traffic control signal at Highland Parkway it will create a safer driving situation. The realignment also will allow access to current commercial and residential developments, Dungan said.
The plan is to create a four lane road divided by a median that connects at U.S. Hwy. 11 where the current traffic signal hangs. The new Richardson-Ozona Road will connect with the new four lane road through a roundabout.
The existing traffic signal at Highland Parkway and U.S. Hwy. 11 will be modified to reflect the changes, Dungan said.
While the public hearing was only to discuss the realignment of Richardson-Ozona Rd., conversation was steered by members of the public toward the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s project to turn U.S. Hwy. 11 into an undivided four lane highway from Hideaway Lake to Hobolochitto Creek.
“Looks like it’s going to be mighty inconvenient for people and businesses,” said Russell Foster, a Picayune resident, about the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s U.S. Hwy. 11 project.
The old Richardson-Ozona Road will be abandoned by the county and turned over to the adjoining landowners. Dungan expects the Department of Transportation to obtain from the county the existing “right-in, right-out” portion of Richardson-Ozona Road to be used in their road project.
The realignment project is funded by the Mississippi Development Authority and has a budget of $1.5 million. The project is being administered by the State Aid Road Division.
The board also discussed security at the courthouse with the passing of House Bill Two during the regular session of the State Legislature. Joe Montgomery, board attorney, said the bill would not change the current rules involving open and concealed weapons at the courthouse.
Regardless of the type of permit a person possesses, no weapons are allowed past the metal detectors at the courthouse unless the person has been granted permission by the judge. Montgomery said because of the nature of the cases the court handles, the protected area of the courthouse is confined to any area beyond the metal detectors.
Also at the meeting, the board:
— Announced it had been awarded the Victim of Crimes Act Grant, which helps pay the salary for some court personnel who work with the victims of domestic violence. The county has received the grant for the past 16 years.
— Approved the name change of Boomerang Road, a private road that had previously been misspelled.
— Approved finance agreements totaling $44,000 for two road department trucks.
— Discussed hiring Butler and Snow law firm of Jackson to help with redistricting the county. Montgomery told District Three Supervisor Dennis Dedeaux that he did not know how much it was going to cost the board.
— Received a $50,000 reimbursement check from the Pearl River Basin Development District to help economic development.
— Approved for the payroll clerk and assistant payroll clerk to attend Public Employees’ Retirement System training in Hattiesburg on July 16.
— Decided to readvertise for bids on personal property tax maintenance. The board had previously advertised, but received no bids, said Adrian Lumpkin Jr., court administrator.
— Went into executive session to discuss litigation. No action was taken by the board.
The board adjourned until its next scheduled meeting Monday, July 1, at 9 a.m.