Manly briefs supervisors on storm shelter proposals

Published 12:50 am Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pearl River County Emergency Management Director Danny Manly on Monday told supervisors he is continuing to hunt for ways to morph three approved stand-alone storm shelters, authorized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, into multi-purpose structures that will save the county money by spreading out maintenace costs and combining the proposed shelters with local construction projects already being planned, such as school cafeterias.

In addition, supervisors acknowledged publication of a public notice concerning a $7.5 million major highway and road construction project that will transpire inside the city limits of Picayune in conjunction with the proposed construction of Highland Community Hospital.

“It was the first step in the process,” said County Administrator Adrian Lumpkin. “We have other things we have to do before we can request the funds.”

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Among other things, the project will see the widening of U.S. Highway 11 in northern Picayune from three to five lanes, thus helping eliminate traffic congestion along that route.

FEMA has approved an $8.9 million grant to construct three stand-alone storm shelters, one each in the northern, central and southern parts of the county. Each shelter would cost about $2.9 million and would be constructed to house residents fleeing a major storm, suchas a hurricane, or extreme weather such as tornadoes, for up to 36 hours.

Like all federal grants, the money is appropriated on the front end, but expenses accrue for local governments on the back end. After the stand-alone shelters are constructed, the county will face maintenance expenses for them and insurance.

Manly told supervisors that a plan to combine the shelter with a newly planned cafeteria at the Picayune South Side Elementry School fell through because of the time-frame the school system faces.

“On the cafeteria Picayune is now building at Southside, our time-frames will not match up,” said Manly. “They have a 120-day window within which to get construction started because of the bond. But they do have another cafeteria they are planning to build at the high school, so the possibility exists that we can partner with that one.”

Manly said he had checked with school officials at Pearl River Central and in Poplarville and that both districts said they had projects in the works that might dovetail with the proposed shelter construction. Officials with bothdistricts said that they would check with their boards about the matter, Manly said.

The county is in the process of drawing up what is termed a “preliminary scoping survey” requested by peoject architect Mark Gray, client service director with Buchert Horn, Inc., of Memphis, Tenn.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is helping oversee the project, and that agency wants the project in Picayune ready for occupancy by Nov. 21, 2010, and in the central and northern portions of the county by Sept. 23, 2010.

Manly said he had talked with Burchert Horn representatives and they said that turning the one-purpose facilities into a multi-purpose facility was “okay with them.”

Any additional monies above the $2.9 million appropriated for each of the orginal structures would come from local sources, officials said.

In another matter in the relatively short hour-and-one-half meeting, supervisors acknowledged the public notice concerning $7.5 million in Community Development Block Grant funding that will see a major highway and road construction project inside the city limits of Picayune in association with the proposed construction of the new Highland Community Hospital.

The public notice ran in the Item on Sept. 17.

The project will consist of construction of an access road from Mississippi Highway 43 to Highland Commons Parkway near the intersection of Miss. 43 North and I-59, near Cooper Road.

It also will see an expansion of U.S. Hwy. 11 from three lanes to five lanes beginning just south of Carroll Street and ending just north of Lakeshore Drive.

The overall project will include the site of the Highland Community Hospital, which is to be located southeast of the intersections of U.S. 11 and Highlands Common Parkway.

All improvements will be inside the city limits of Picayune.

In other actions, supervisors:

— Spread on the minutes personnel changes submitted by Sheriff David Allison and approved vehicle inventory changes.

— Discussed briefly with with county planner Reginald Oliver the process of getting reimbursed $325,000 in connection with a project filed through the Mississippi Development Authority.

— Approved travel by Justice court clerk to siminar in Choctaw on Nov. 11-13; tax assessor-collector and three staff members to the Mississippi IAAO workshop in Natchez on Oct. 21-22; and fire marshal and emergency management director to the county fire coordinator meeting in Jackson on Nov. 17-18.