March 4, 2014 9:58:43 AM
Nathan Gregory - [email protected]
As one quality-of-life project to help under-served Lowndes County residents ends, another may soon be beginning.
Officials from the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District and Columbus Light and Water are discussing the possibility of extending sewer service to a subdivision in District 4 just outside the Columbus city limits. County supervisors approved setting a public hearing date during their meeting for 6 p.m., March 20 at the National Guard Armory on Highway 69.
The extension would benefit residents of Cook Drive, Pickens Drive, Pickensville Road, Kimberly Lane and Pecan Lane.
District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith said if the project gains enough support to move forward, the county will decide whether to apply for a Community Development Block Grant. The Mississippi Development Authority administers the grants and will accept applications from counties and municipalities in May.
GTPDD planner George Crawford said an informational meeting recently held had a good turnout, but a public hearing is needed to solicit an accurate tally of how many residents would be interested.
"Most of these people either don't have a way of properly disposing of their sewage. Those who do use a septic system, and sometimes that's not too good," Crawford said. "It's also a low area where water stands a lot. There is a low spot in the county that has a drainage problem."
The residents affected are customers of East Lowndes Water Association, which does not provide sewer services.
Board President Harry Sanders asked why the county would be involved if CL&W was offering to extend service to that area.
"I guess if Columbus feels like if they ever did annex that area that they would already have sewer out there," Crawford said.
Smith said drainage and sewage issues have long plagued the area.
"Those drainage issues (are) affecting the sewer services they're receiving. We have not been able to alleviate the drainage issues, which is compounding the issues of proper sewage," Smith said. "Columbus Light and Water can extend their service one mile past the city limits ...What we're doing right now is exploratory, to see how many people would be interested and how many people would opt into a possible program. Then we would be able to come back to the board and say we've got enough interest to move forward or we didn't get enough interest to move forward."
Smith added that in the past, the county has partnered with the city for similar projects to provide improvements for Spivey Road, Cady Hills and Woodland Heights. The county would not provide any matching funding if the grant is awarded. Rather, CL&W would provide the local match.
Water extension done
Another county project made possible through CDBG funds is all but complete. Now, nearly 50 residential units on Frisco Road have better water service because they're connected to East Lowndes Water Association's system.
Sanders signed the closing documents for that project Monday. East Lowndes provided a 50/50 match in the amount of $104,203 to bring improved water capabilities to an area that previously had shallow and malfunctioning wells.
GTPDD housing specialist Patsy Patterson said the project was very successful and the state will come to the area and monitor the services before the project is officially closed.
Smith said the local/state contribution provided for an area "in dire need."
"We had wells drying up and people struggling to have quality water services in their home," Smith said. "That was an opportunity for us as a board to step forward and improve the quality of life for those people."
In other business, the board:
■ Appointed Harry Thomas to the E-911 board to represent District 4 and recognized longtime board member J.D. Brooks for his service;
■ Approved CDBG invoices from Weathers Construction for work on the soon-to-open CalStar plant;
■ Purchased two 2013 Ford E-350 vans at $24,744 each for the road department to be used for litter control;
■ Announced the resignation of Bart Wise as the business community appointment from the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors and began taking applications. The vacated term ends in March 2016. Wise was also the board's treasurer.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.