County looking for U.S. 11 widening funds

Published 3:16 pm Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The county is applying for grant funding to widen a section of the heavily traveled U.S. 11.

The Board of Supervisors on Monday approved applying for a series of grants to do the work.

Jason Hicks with Sample and Associates said about $12 million might be secured through grant funding to conduct widening work on U.S. 11 from in front of Highland Community Hospital’s proposed new location to the intersection of U.S. 11 and Mississippi 43 North.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Three sources of funding would get the work done — $13,538 from the county, about $5.27 million from Mississippi Department of Transportation and about $7.5 million from Mississippi Development Authority highway program funds, Hicks said.

The work is expected to five lane the now three-lane section of the highway, County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said.

A series of motions were approved by the board for Hicks to apply for the various grants and for resolutions associated with those applications.

The failure of Pearl River Valley Opportunity to respond to supervisors’ inquiries about the cessation of senior citizen bus service has some board members dissatisfied with the agency. The bus transportation program was necessary for some senior citizens to get to doctor offices and to conduct other errands. At an earlier meeting, supervisors discussed the cessation of bus service at the beginning of the month, leaving a number of senior citizens without a way to get around. Planning and Development Director Ed Pinero Jr. was appointed to the PRVO’s board so the board of supervisors could establish contact on the matter. On Monday, board president Anthony Hales said he sent a letter to a PRVO representative so the agency would be aware of the new appointment.

Hales said he had attempted to contact PRVO’s board previously to find out why the bus program ceased but has yet to get a response.

“I just don’t appreciate the way we’ve been treated,” Hales said.

To get the buses running again, Hales suggested asking another county organization to run the program, such as a church group, if PRVO doesn’t respond. Hales asked Pinero to come back before the board of supervisors after the next PRVO board meeting with some information on the matter so a decision can be made.

Helicopter service in the county may undergo some changes. The board discussed the possibility of the district switching to Life Flight, which would mean the size of the district would increase from 10 counties to 17 counties covered by the same helicopter. However, Pearl River County Emergency Management Director Danny Manley said that while the new service would provide the county with a helicopter equipped with a registered nurse and paramedic at all times, the larger coverage area could mean reduced services.

Manley said only one helicopter would be available with Life Flight, the same as with current provider Rescue 7.

A couple of weeks ago Rescue 7 hit an oak tree limb while responding to an accident, putting it out of service for about a week. A plus side of Life Flight service involves a helicopter bank on which to draw upon in such instances, Manley said.

District III Supervisor Hudson Holliday said the board should take into consideration response time if the matter proceeds further. Manley said the response time would be about the same, but the increase in the number of counties in the district would leave things largely to chance as to when the helicopter would be available. Manley said he would keep the board up to date as information becomes available.

A number of complaints concerning builders doing shoddy work have come to the county’s attention. Pinero said his building inspectors have been helping building inspectors in the City of Picayune after they received a number of the complaints. Most of the complaints concern work done by out-of-county contractors.

District V Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith suggested the county could simply not allow offending contractors to have any more permits until previous problems are resolved. Holliday suggested the building division also could post a list of the offending builders to notify the community. Until then, Holliday suggested residents deal with contractors by refusing to pay them.

“Don’t pay them until you get the inspection done,” Holliday said.

In other business, the board went into executive session to discuss personnel changes in the Road Department. No action was taken on the matter, Lumpkin said.

The board also;

— Approved entering into an interlocal agreement with county and City of Picayune to conduct work on Amelia Street.

— Acknowledged a Ranger 6×6 utility vehicle awarded by the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company to the county to be used for various emergency and special use operations.

— Announced that the wording in the HOME grant notice in a recent issue of the Picayune Item was set forth by HUD and does not mean the county is getting another grant. That grant has now expired.

The next meeting of the board will be at 9 a.m. Nov. 3.