Improvements underway in Picayune

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 17, 2015

WATER TIGHT: Greg Roberts, center, and his son work on one of 10 hydrants that needed seals replaced over the week. Photo by Jeremy Pittari

WATER TIGHT: Greg Roberts, center, and his son work on one of 10 hydrants that needed seals replaced over the week.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

Improvement projects in the city of Picayune are not only providing more places to park in downtown, but also keeping fire hydrants functional.
Earlier this week city officials announced that the work to the new parking area on Main Street is nearing completion. Public Works Director Eric Morris said the new brick paved parking lot will be open to the public within the next couple of weeks, after a couple of punch list items are finished.
Some of the things that still need to be wrapped up include adding sod to the area where the work took place and putting seed in the areas where the equipment dug up some of the surrounding grass.
The project was primarily funded by a Mississippi Development Authority grant. Engineer Vernon Moore said the entire project cost about $40,000, of which the city paid about $6,000.
When complete the new lot will provide additional parking to the downtown area. Local CPA Ron Baumann, of Baumann and Co., feels the additional parking is a significant improvement to the downtown area. He said the city’s improvement efforts, such as the parking lot, will help bring more businesses to Picayune.
Another project, which was completed on Friday, entailed maintenance work to keep the city’s fire hydrants operational and free of leaks.
Greg Roberts and his son were in town this week replacing seals, a job they can complete while the hydrants are still pressurized by utilizing a special apparatus attached to his truck. The device attaches to the top of the hydrant and removes the rod, seat and seals, allowing the seals to be replaced with the water pressure intact. It takes about three hours to replace the seals in one hydrant.
Some of the seals Roberts finds in the hydrants are made of leather, the material used to make them in the past. Modern seals are now made of rubber, which is what he uses during the repair.
Morris said when he joined the city’s Public Works Department about three years ago there were almost 70 hydrants that needed the work done to them.
Now he averages between five to 10 that need the work on a annual or semiannual basis. This trip 10 hydrants were fixed.
Fire department personnel identify hydrants that need maintenance while conducting regular inspections. When a problem is found Morris will determine whether the problem is something city employees can fix or if it’s a job for Roberts.

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