County officials feel Washington trip was successful

Published 12:19 am Sunday, March 2, 2008

County officials went to Washington, D.C., last week to ask for funding for several projects for the county, and returned believing that the trip was productive.

County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said in a telephone interview on Friday that Supervisors Sandy Smith, Patrick Lee, Hudson Holliday and Charles Culpepper joined him, Chancery Court Clerk David Earl Johnson, County Engineer Les Dungan and County Planning and Development Director Ed Pinero in presenting four major projects to Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker and Congressman Gene Taylor in Washington.

Of the projects presented, the highest priority project is a proposal to four-lane a section of U.S. Highway 11 from Hideaway Lake to Sycamore Road/Mississippi Highway 43 North. The proposal includes improvements to intersections on U.S. 11 where the proposed Highland Parkway will be constructed, and the intersection of Miss. 43N and Cooper Road.

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Lee, also by telephone, said the project has been proposed in an effort to relieve traffic congestion on U.S. 11 north of Picayune.

“Traffic congestion in that area is a big concern, and once they start construction on the hospital, it is going to get worse and worse,” Lee said.

The second priority for the group is the proposed county lake project in Millard, which will provide the county with “a 950-acre lake and 3,050 acres for recreational, residential, commercial and light industrial facilities,” according to the proposal.

Lumpkin said the project includes a 400-acre industrial park and would be located in Millard off of Millard Road.

“We are looking at damming up East Boley Creek on both sides of the road that runs in front of the jail. There would be water on both sides of the road… The project will improve the quality of life in the county and provide numerous economic opportunities,” Lumpkin said.

The third project the supervisors presented is an extension of Ridge Road, which runs past Wal-Mart in Picayune, to Mississippi Highway 607 in Nicholson.

According to the proposal, the project will “provide direct access from Stennis Space Center to the Proposed Picayune Tech Park,” “provide alternative ecavation route to and from Stennis Space Center” and “relieve (traffic) congestion on Memorial Boulevard (Miss. 43).”

The final proposed project is an interchange on Interstate 59 at Anchor Lake, to include a service road from Anchor Lake to Carriere.

Holliday said the proposed interchange will facilitate building of the proposed new school for the Pearl River County School District. The school district has proposed that the new school be built on the east side if I-59 at Anchor Lake.

Holliday said the interchange also would help alleviate traffic on U.S. 11 North and Sycamore Road because it would provide direct access to the interstate at Anchor Lake.

Smith said each supervisor chose to present the project that he was passionate about, and Smith presented the U.S. 11 project.

“It’s a major priority. We need to get infrastructure for the hospital… (The trip) was very educational for all of us. The only way to get these things is if we rub elbows with these people and let them know our needs. It was very positive, more positive than I thought it would be,” Smith said.

Johnson said he believed the trip was very effective and could result in a lot of federal funding for Pearl River County in the future.

“We had great meetings with everyone and have already gotten a response from Congressman Taylor… We hope to get a good bit of money out of the trip… but it’s kind of like farming. You won’t see the results immediately, but once you start seeing results, they may be even more than you expected,” Johnson said.

Dungan agreed that the trip was effective.

“The supervisors had the opportunity to share with senators and congressmen some high priority projects that need funding,” Dungan said.

Many of those who went said it was their first trip and an exciting experience for them all.

“It was my first time in an airplane. I had never flown before, but I took an oath to serve the people of Pearl River County and I had to get on that airplane to keep my oath,” Culpepper said.