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Council angry over Ridge Road

A number of topics were covered at the most recent city council meeting, but heated comments came from some city officials when work on Ridge Road was brought up.

When work at Picayune’s airport was brought up and council member Jerry Bounds heard District VI Supervisor J. Patrick Leea attended at a recent airport board meeting, Bounds asked if anyone had asked Lee what became of the $800,000 promised to the city and county to repair Ridge Road.

Airport manager Andy Greenwood said that when airport personnel discussed priorities at the airport, Lee was not asked what had become of the funds. Greenwood spoke to a surveyor hired by the county who indicated that construction on the road would not begin in 2008.

Bounds asked why another survey was taking place when the city had already conducted a survey of the road.

Mayor Greg Mitchell said the city paid about $35,000 to conduct that survey.

“And now we’re going to re-engineer the engineer?” Mitchell asked.

Dungan Engineering employee Brooks Wallace said that money was for surveying all of Ridge Road, from Mississippi 43 South to the intersection of Mississippi 607. The survey the city conducted only followed Ridge Road from the intersection of Miss. 43 South to the airport.

During the discussion about Ridge Road, an estimate was made that the county had only about $60,000 left from the $800,000.

Council member Leavern Guy asked if there was a way for the city to stop the county from spending the money. City attorney Nathan Farmer said that matter should be discussed in executive session. Interim City Manager Harvey Miller was not available for comment on what the council had discussed.

“This is another perfect example where the city does not know where we are as partners in this county,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said he was not making accusations of Wallace, but stating he was upset that another entity was controlling funds that were promised to both the city and county.

On a separate note, work in the city that was supposed to be completed has been held up. Traffic on East Canal has been reopened, but the broken sewer line is still broken.

Public Works Director Chad Frierson said they ran into difficulties when the sewer line began to collapse while they were working on it. He said the city aslo was in danger of losing the water line at that location. Frierson said the decision was made to fill the hole and reopen the road to traffic while the city seeks pricing from contractors to repair the problem. A time frame for completion of work on the sewer line was not available, Frierson said.

Council member Anna Turnage asked about Emmet Hayes’ problem on Lakeside Drive. Hayes has a large hole in his back yard due to another broken sewer line. Hayes addressed the council about the problem, stating this is the third time it’s happened in his 30-year tenure of that home.

“If ya’ll come and patch the line and fill the hole up, I’ll be happy,” Hayes said.

Another resident who lives right behind Hayes, Michael Roberts, said the same problem affects his home. Water fills his back yard in the middle of summer, and the sewer backs up into his home at times. Roberts said he has trouble keeping toilets down and suffers from drainage problems when his clothes washer goes into the spin cycle.

“It’s not so much a complaint it’s a cry for help. Please help me,” Roberts said.

Turnage also asked about penalties for residents who fail to bag yard clippings, which causes drainage hazards. Farmer said City Ordinance 805 states that all leaves, grass clippings, garden trimmings and weeds should be placed in plastic garbage bags and set at the curb for pick up. Violation of the ordinance could result in a fine of $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail.

Farmer said the Picayune Police Department could write citations for failure to bag the leaves and grass clippings.

In other business, the council went into executive session to discuss a contractual matter with the Pearl River County Utility Authority, ambulance service, two possible sales of land, possible litigation and a personnel matter. No action was reported to have taken place on any of the issues discussed in executive session.

Other actions made by the council include;

— Approved a $31,244.73 change order from Hemphill Construction for FEMA project repairs to the city waste water treatment plant and water pumping stations due to additional needed repairs. FEMA will reimburse 100 percent.

— Approved travel request for Fire Marshall Pat Weaver to attend training at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md.

— Approved a request to submit application for non-matching grant funding from Wal-Mart to be used to purchase fire safety material for children.

— Approved travel of Battalion Chief Darren Dennis and Firefighter Billy Schaff to Incident response to Terrorist Bombing at the Energetic Materials Research and Testing center in Socorro, N.M. EMRTC will cover the expenses for travel lodging and meals.

The next meeting of the city council is at 6 p.m. April 1.