District 4 residents air complaints at community meeting

July 17, 2013 9:49:31 AM

Nathan Gregory - [email protected]


Where Hardy-Billups Road meets Swedenburg Road in Lowndes County's District 4, there are two signs reminding motorists not to dump litter or other unwanted items. 


What draws the ire of residents of the Hill City area just above downtown Crawford is that they still see anything from trash to old mattresses abandoned around that sign. That, and the deterioration of roads they use to get to and from their homes each day, have residents wondering if they have been forgotten by county officials. 


District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith held the first in a planned series of community meetings in his district at the South Lowndes Water Association building Thursday, providing residents an opportunity to voice their concerns and speak on issues in need of attention. 


County agency representatives were also on hand to update the small group of residents on what is being done to serve them. That group included road manager Ronnie Burns, Lowndes County Sheriff Mike Arledge, District 4 Fire Service chairman Gwen King, South Lowndes Water Association President John Love and Columbus-Lowndes Public Library appointee Annie Love. 


Burns said early next month county road crews will be putting seal rock on Swedenburg Road and making improvements to Fairport Road, Whispering Pines Road and Plum Grove Road. Crews will use a double bituminous surface treatment to pave a mile-and-a-half of West Minnie Vaughn Road that now has a gravel surface, Burns said. 


Smith also updated community members on plans to build an open air park in the community, citing one built during his previous term three years ago on Hughes Road, which he said enhanced the quality of life in the area.  


"There's nothing out here," Smith said. "I see 30 kids behind a house shooting basketball. I drove down West Lindsey Ferry Road and watched people walk from one end of Hardy-Billups down to the end of (Highway) 45 South because there is no place to walk. That, in itself, is a safety issue. There is nowhere for our small kids to congregate and enjoy life and grow. I've been talking to some people in the community about possibly being able to use property they own and I've also reached out to (Mississippi) Wildlife, Fisheries (and Parks) as a possibility to partner with the community or partner with Lowndes County and allow us to have an acre of land." 


Hardy-Billups Road resident Deborah Coleman suggested more members of the community monitor the area for people using it as a dumping site. 


"Littering is getting out of control, and that's my pet peeve," she said. "I was very concerned about that." 


She said she was pleased to hear about plans for road improvements in the short term and the possibility of a park near her home where her grandchildren can play when they visit her. 


"They said Hardy-Billups was going to be one of the roads they're working on soon. That would be a tremendous help to this area. All we can do is take his word for it and just watch and see," she said. "There's not a really good safe place to walk out here. I have grandkids who visit me here. There's really nothing to do, so I was really excited about the prospect for the park because it's really needed here. If you keep kids busy, they're not as likely to get in trouble. 


"These meetings are so important because we do feel like we've been kicked to the side and passed over. With this meeting, at least he's letting us know that he's concerned with this area and that baby steps are happening," Coleman added. "We'll take that." 


Smith said the next community meeting will be held July 22 in downtown Crawford.

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.