Supes discuss grant solutions for ditch
by Paisley Boston
Feb 26, 2014 | 1870 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Supervisor Preston Billings remains concerned about the Eastgate ditch project.

Billings called a special meeting on Monday to discuss possible solutions about two projects that he has been working on.

"I met with Congressman Bennie Thompson on Saturday and shared information with him about the Eastgate situation," said Billings.

"I now understand the scope of the situation and he told me to consult with Geri Adams at his office in Mound Bayou to seek money for the project because we do not want to half do it," he added.

According to Billings, he was scheduled to attend a conference in Washington, D.C., where he had planned to gain more clarity about finding funding for the project but he has decided cancel the trip.

"The purpose of my visit to Washington was to try and get a better understanding of what I should do about the situation in Eastgate but Thompson helped me to understand everything that I needed to know," he said.

"He pretty much explained the extent of my trip. He wants Mr. Eley to continue assuming responsibility for the project. Thompson said that he is going to assist us in getting funds. He also said that he prefers to deal directly with the representative in Mound Bayou and they will give the information to him," continued Billings.

According to Billings, he is ready to begin the Eastgate project because the weather is getting warmer and snakes will be an issue very soon.

Although members of the board have been working to assist Billings in this project, the iron fence still poses as a major problem as it prevents the county from being able to bring in large equipment to clean up the space and place a covering on the ditch.

"It is hard for us to do something about this because the game is being played in someone else's court but we need to remain focused on this project," said Billings.

"I want this project to be put underground and I am going to need the board and Washington D.C. to work with me on this project," he added.

According to Bolivar County Engineer Project Manager Josh McPherson, he has spoken with the owner of the Eastgate property regarding the removal of the iron fence.

McPherson and Board Attorney Linda Coleman are trying to get an easement for the property from the owner.

"We have been consulting with the owner of the property but she has not given us permission to permanently relocate the iron fence," said Coleman.

Billings said once the county receives permission to remove the fence, he would like for all of the grants that members of the board have been working on to come together to resolve and aid in the Eastgate project but according to Supervisor Andrew Williams, Billings did not go through the proper authority to receive funding for the project.

"We have had a 100 percent success rate in grant applications through the State Department and the United States Department of Agriculture. The application goes through the Mississippi Development Authority in Jackson and in the past five years, we have not been turned down. If you choose to go through the congressman's office this will deviate from what we have normally done," said Williams.

"I think we should just give him a copy of the grant application so that he will be able to follow it through the USDA office," he added.

Williams said he does not mind ensuring that Thompson remains abreast about county projects but he would prefer to give him a copy of the grant application once it has been submitted to the proper grant agencies.

After an extensive debate about Eastgate, Billings then announced that he has continued to receive phone calls from homeowners about placing guardrails on Deeson Road in Shelby.

"People still want to know what is going to be done once we put the guard rails up on DeesonRoad because even with the rails, there is still a big opening there. Drivers have been missing that curve both ways, going east and west," he said.

"The homeowner has even tried to put up brick barriers and people are still running into this house. These people have been on me for a while about this, it’s election time and I want to get reelected," added Billings.

County Engineer Bob Eley said he has looked into the issue and constructed drawings for signage and guardrails.

"People are traveling this country road and then all of a sudden, boom, they hit a deep curve. There is no question about it. There is a house that has been hit and a cedar tree that has obviously been hit pretty hard because all of the bark is off of it," said Eley.

"We are going to place signs all the way around the curve. We are doing everything that we can possibly do," he added.

Sheriff Kelvin Williams and Warden Ora Starks reserved matters of personnel for executive session.