Supervisors treat road department

Published 2:00 pm Friday, December 11, 2009

The Pearl River County road department was treated to an appreciation luncheon on Thursday, celebrating the official completion of paving all the public roads in the county.

The accomplishment represents a decades long project, said county road manager Mike Mitchell, but it was recently accelerated when the current board adopted a $3 million bond issue in 2008 to complete the last 75 miles.

“It was done in-house, and that saved us a lot of money,” said Mitchell just before the appreciation lunch got underway at the county road department at Millard. “Having all the roads paved will also help cut down on road maintenance and costs. We were spending $10,000 a month just on gravel to maintain the gravel roads. Also, we won’t need as much equipment, either,” said Mitchell.

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Supervisors were quick to point out that they paid for the luncheon out of their own pockets, that it was not charged to the county.

Said board president and supervisor Anthony Hales, “Not only does it do a lot for the citizens to give them a smooth clean road, it also helps us save money and fully institute the unit system here, which we are proud of. It should cost less now to keep them up and maintain them.”

In addition, supervisors will be able to eliminate some of the equipment, which will save even more money.

Said supervisor Patrick Lee, “It’s a big accomplishment. Like Mike said, we have been trying to do it since 1996. When we took office, we sat down with Mike, and he showed us how it would save money, so we all went for it.”

“Of course, the late Charles Culpepper was a big part of it too. He had worked for 20 years with the road department and that was a dream he had of getting all roads paved,” Lee said.

“This get-together and luncheon is just a way for us to say thank you to the road department and crews who accomplished this. They worked real hard and took pride in their work. We just felt appreciation should be shown to this bunch of guys who worked so hard on this,” Supervisor Hudson Holliday said.

In addition, Holliday said that the paving was accomplished in-house with no major injuries. “It is such dangerous work, too, and it was done safely.”

“The men in this department are the backbone of our county road system, and we are trying to get industry in here, and it is very important that our road system be up-to-date and maintained properly. This road department helps in that area, and I want to personally thank each member of the road department for the work they do. I know they put in long, hard hours,” said Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith.

Mitchell said there are 1,100 miles of local roads on county books that must be maintained, and having each one paved will help reduce maintenance costs and labor on each road, thus saving taxpayers money.

He said that a state-aid-road inspector recently inspected county roads and told him that Pearl River County has one of the best and best-maintained road systems in the state.

“And you must realize that Pearl River County is the third largest county area-wise in the state. That is a lot of county and a lot of road mileage to keep up. This board has been the best at helping us do our job, but I want to also say that previous boards, too, helped work toward this accomplishment, and we want to thank them, too, for their hard work,” Mitchell said.

The county road department has 62 employees.