Board of Supervisors prepares to travel to District of Columbia

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors is making plans to visit the District of Columbia to discuss county needs with representatives from Mississippi.
During Monday’s supplementary Board meeting, County Engineer Les Dungan volunteered to travel with the group, utilizing business connections to make some headway at the federal level, he said.
Dungan said he would act as a delegate for the county, covering a portion of the cost and developing presentations for the county’s approved project list.
First, Dungan revisited the realignment and improvement of Ridge Road, a county project that began around 2009.
The realignment would connect Highway 43 South and Highway 607 to create better access to the airport and an alternate route around the congested intersection in front of Walmart, Dungan said.
Under the plan, Ridge Road would connect to Highway 43 South near Stafford Road. The original proposal estimated the project would cost $16.3 million, previous coverage states.
To date, Dungan said an environmental study and other preparations that were already funded are complete, but the project is at a standstill without additional funding.
The next two phases include extending the intersection with Runway Road, paving about two miles of roadway, acquiring right of ways and relocating utilities, Dungan said.
He estimated it would cost about $4.25 million to finish those two phases.
The project is intended to spur economic development in the technology park and the airport, while creating an alternative flow from Interstate 59 during evacuations and linking Pearl River County to the Gulf Coast.
“With what we see and hear coming with the aviation industry, both defense and commercial, I think there’s great potential for the airport to develop,” Dungan said, who acknowledged the buffer zone would have to be taken into consideration.
The county held a public hearing on the issue in January 2009, which did not entail much public resistance, according to previous coverage.
The Board also discussed the construction of a county lake, another long-time project also at a standstill.
Board Vice President Hudson Holliday has been an advocate of the lake, and said on Monday that the county spent $400,000 on the project in the last 15 years.
Holliday suggested the Board request $500,000 in federal funding to complete the necessary environmental impact study, or receive a waiver to begin construction.
“One of the unique things about this site is it’s a cleaner environmental site with less impact to the public part of the environment,” Dungan said.
County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said the project was already listed in the Pearl River County Utility Authority’s master plan, making it eligible for some grant funding.
Weyerhauser, who owns the majority of the land where the county wants to build the lake, communicated with the county to develop several ownership options, District II Supervisor Malcolm Perry and Lumpkin said.
The Board voted to prepare presentations for the Ridge Road and county lake projects, as well as for ongoing issues with the Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home concerning fraud with the past administration. The Board hopes speaking with representatives can help regain some of the funds lost during that time.
Dungan, Lumpkin, Holliday, Board President Sandy Kane Smith and District IV Supervisor Farron Moeller will travel to the District of Columbia from Feb. 13-15.
District I Supervisor Donald Hart and Moeller also plan to attend the 2017 National Association of Counties Legislative Conference in the District from Feb. 25-March 1.
The next regular Board meeting will be held Feb. 6 at 9 a.m.

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About Julia Arenstam

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