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Residents push supes to pave roads

 

Tim Pratt

 

STARKVILLE -- Another group of citizens came to the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors Monday to ask the county to pave their road, spurring yet another debate on how to improve the county''s vast network of dust and gravel. 

 

A half dozen residents, led by Virginia Carr, attended the meeting to ask the board to pave Harris Road, located southeast of Starkville off Chapel Hill Road. If the county can''t pave the road, it should at least maintain it, said Harris Road resident Keith Baird, who complained of drainage ditches filled with gravel and excess storm water runoff.  

 

A majority of the problems expressed by the Harris Road residents were related to stormwater runoff and an unstable tree in the right-of-way, while others complained the road is too narrow and too much gravel is clogging up roadside ditches.  

 

"That road is in worse condition now than it has been in years," Harris Road resident Ollie Deloach said. 

 

Harris Road is located in District 5 Supervisor John Young''s territory, and he said he could add it to the county''s four-year road plan, which outlines what roads the county will build, pave and maintain.  

 

"I can definitely put Harris Road on my next four-year road plan, but it won''t come up until 2014," Young told the group.  

 

County Administrator Don Posey, who also serves as the county''s road manager, planned to look at Harris Road today. The county also plans to send its engineer to make recommendations on how to help residents in the short-term.  

 

Posey said he plans to contact a contractor to remove the unstable tree.  

 

District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer, however, is fed up with the county''s approach to paving roads. Each supervisor gets to pave two miles of road in their district per year.  

 

Trainer wants the county to borrow money to pay for countywide infrastructure improvements and new equipment for its road crews. He made a motion Monday to approve a resolution of intent to issue up to $5 million in bonds for infrastructure improvements, but the motion died due to a lack of second.  

 

Trainer said he wanted to pass a resolution of intent to gauge the public''s reaction on another bond issue. County voters have approved more than $50 million in bond issues in recent years for improvements to the Oktibbeha County School District and OCH Regional Medical Center. 

 

Trainer said he is confident citizens would approve a $5 million or $10 million bond issue to pave county roads.  

 

"If public opinion is that we should not do it, then we should not do it," Trainer said. "But I think public opinion would probably be on our side and they would be willing to support us to do what''s in the best interest of this county. They did it one time with the hospital. They thought it was a good idea. They voted on it and it passed. I think they would take the same approach with the road work." 

 

The remaining members of the board are leery to approve a bond issue, which they believe would lead to millage increases in the county.  

 

Board President Marvell Howard cited the town of Maben, which has struggled economically in recent years, as a population which can''t handle any more millage increases. 

 

"Any more debt will literally kill them," Howard said. "I am not prepared at this time to put any more debt on the citizens of Maben." 

 

Trainer said the county could borrow money without a millage increase by using gas severance tax funds, which are paid by oil producers, though he did not have exact figures. The county is paying off an existing bond issue with gas severance funds, but those funds are "barely" paying for the bond, the board has said.  

 

"If you can get it all together and bring us some numbers, maybe we can talk about it some more," Howard told Trainer.

 

 

 

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