Supervisors discuss new road and trash, again

Published 1:19 pm Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Supervisors on Monday assured two residents who live near a proposed route for a new road connecting Anchor Lake Road and West Union Road on the east side of Interstate 59 that residents’ concerns and input into the project would be addressed before any dirt is turned for the project.

Supervisors also discussed the county’s trash and littering problems for the second time in a week. Supervisors gave the subject an extended discussion during their Dec. 28 meeting, and discussion resumed on Monday.

Chris Banks, a Reese Road area resident, asked supervisors what they planned to do regarding the proposed road. Reese Road would be impacted by any road that is constructed paralleling the east side of I-59.

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“We just basically wanted to know what kind of road you planned to put in, either a 2-lane or 4-lane. This is the first we heard about it in the Dec. 30 newspaper. No one has contacted us,” said Banks. “I just want to know what your plans are.”

County Administrator Adrian Lumpkin told Banks that preliminary work had been done on the project but nothing has been finalized. “We began looking at the project when Pearl River County school officials came to us and said they were looking at the possibility of constructing a new school out there.

“We are just looking at it and trying to determine what is the best way to do it,” Lumpkin added. He said a preliminary plan called for the new road to skirt the interstate.

Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith said the road would be similar to a state-aid road such as West Union Road. “It won’t be a pig trail,” he told Banks.

Supervisor Patrick Lee told Banks that he could contact him anytime and go out and look at proposed routes. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable any other way unless everybody on Reese Road and the area had input on this,” Lee said.

Board President and Supervisor Anthony Hales told Banks, “I can appreciate your concern, and we will see that you stay informed about it.”

“We assumed the people in that area were aware of it,” said Hales. “But somebody should have done a better job of telling the people what was being proposed.”

Supervisor Hudson Holliday said that originally they had wanted to construct a new interchange on I-59 at Anchor Lake but that was too costly and then the school district when proposing a new school suggested that a new road would be necessary. “It all sort of fell into place,” he said.

County officials have lined up about $2.5 million for the project through federal sources that will be funneled through the state-aid road division for the project. Supervisors at their last meeting said the road would open up a new section of the county for development and would provide access to I-59 at Exit 10 for residents living in that east central section of the county.

Added Smith, “This has been years in the making. If there is anything I have found out, government works slowly. My main objective has been to get an interchange at Anchor Lake but it was switched to this. This is just getting off the ground, and I think all the people out there should have input into where the project goes.”

Smith said when the county gets more information on what is exactly proposed, he would set up a meeting to make sure that residents in the area are fully briefed on what is happening.

Supervisors said a public hearing on the project will be held.

Reese Road resident Thomas Kirby said that information reported in the Dec. 30 edition of the Picayune Item, saying that residents in the Anchor Lake area had to go back to U.S. Highway 11 to access the interstate was not accurate. He said one mile west on Anchor Lake Road residents can go south on Lumpkin Road and come out two-tenths of a mile from the Exit 10 on West Union.

He told supervisors that residents can access I-59 Exit 10 by traveling down Lumpkin Road on the west side of the interstate, rather than going back all the way to U.S. 11.

In addition, he said that the proposed road intersecting with West Union Road would cause additional congestion in an already congested and dangerous section along West Union.

“It’s a very dangerous area to add another intersection. It’s very dangerous in there right now with the 18-wheelers coming out right there.” There is a truck stop at Exit 10.

Kirby also said he believes there were other “better areas” to build a school than the 16th section land near his home. “It’s low and there are 10 billion mosquitoes out there,” he said.

Supervisors assured the two residents they would be kept fully informed on the matter and that the project was just now in the first stages of development, that a route through the area had not been finalized.

The subject of trash and litter came up again when Smith said he was getting numerous calls from constituents about the problem. He asked how many people were working on the problem, and Hales asked how much money was the county spending on the problem annually.

Lumpkin said the county budgeted $215,000 this year for sanitation.

Asked whom residents should call if they have a trash or litter problem, Hales said residents can call the county barn, the sheriff’s department or even a supervisor. He said the county has a litter officer to investigate trash and litter problems.

Lee said that if anyone wants to file a charge against a person for littering, they could go to the sheriff’s department and “fill out an affidavit.” There is a $250 reward for anyone turning in a person for littering, if that person is convicted.

Hales said in the Dec. 28 meeting that he had seen the reward paid only once in his 20 years on the board.

Said Hales on Monday, “You would be surprised how many people won’t take that step. They want us to do it for them. They want something done, but they don’t have the courage to do it. They want to remain anonymous a lot of times.”

“The problem is you pick up one day and the next day you go out there, it is in the same shape it was before,” said Hales. “It is not because the county is not doing anything. The problem is you have people who don’t care about what the county looks like and don’t care about throwing stuff out.”

Holliday said it is a cultural problem. “We will have to start in the first grade teaching a new ethic on this. People just don’t care.” He said that Mississippi is number 50, or at the bottom of the list of states ranked on the litter problem.

Supervisors mentioned the possibility of a county-wide garbage pickup service, but supervisors said that it would be too expensive and that ultimately it would not totally solve the problem, that people would still litter individually.

In other matters, the board:

— Approved a contract with Southern Financial systems for collection of delinquent fines in the Justice Court system. Hales asked Lumpkin how much was delinquent, “About $400,000?” Lumpkin replied, “One million.”

— Directed the county road department to pull up posts driven along side what the county claims is a public road, Tommy Smith Road in Derby Community. The road is a dead-end road. Tommy and Mary Smith claim the public road ends at their property and there never was a “right of way” granted to the county for the road to pass through their property at its end. There now is a new home at the end of the road, to which residents need access. Sheriff’s deputies directed her to remove the posts on Monday morning shortly after supervisors made the decision. Mary Smith said she told her sons to pull up the posts, and added, “This will eventually end up in court.”

— Reappointed Lumpkin as county administrator and Hales as board president.

— Heard an invitation from Donna Knezevick to a Tea Party and Pearl River Co. Patriot conference and rally at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Justice Court facility at Millard.

— Went into an executive session at the end of the public meeting to discuss personnel.

— Recessed to Jan. 25 at 9 a.m.