Officials Update Variety of Projects in Joint Meeting

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, March 6, 2001

From the Brookhaven High School renovation to a proposed newtransportation center, local officials took the chance Monday totout a variety of projects going on the city and county.

“It’s an interesting time if you’ve been down Monticello Streetlately,” said Brookhaven School Superintendent Dr. Sam Bounds whiletalking about the $11.5 million renovation and expansion atBHS.

Monday’s Community Elected Officials meeting was held the StateRoom and coordinated by the Southwest District office of theMississippi Development Authority. To encourage cooperation betweenentities, local elected and other officials are invited toquarterly meetings to give updates on projects going on in theirareas.

On the school project, Bounds said rain days had pushed thecompletion date back from Oct. 26 to Nov. 19. He said he wasmeeting with contractors and emphasizing the importance ofcompleting the project before the end of the year.

“I told them, ‘Read my lips, Christmas time we’ve got to movein,'” Bounds said, adding that the main building work is about 90percent complete and work on the two new wings is moving alongwell.

BHS will be responsible for teaching some core curriculum andother courses for students who will be attending the MississippiSchool of the Arts on the Whitworth campus. The school is expectedto open in the fall of 2002 with about 60 students.

On a related note, Dist. 92 Rep. Dr. Jim Barnett said the Waysand Means Committee has included $7 million for renovation of theinteriors of Whitworth College buildings. Barnett said that wouldbe enough to allow the school to open on schedule.

Regarding city activities, Mayor Bill Godbold rolled out adrawing of a proposed Intermodal Transportation Center for theNorth Railroad Avenue area around the old smoke stack.

“It’s going to be a big operation and will mean a lot forBrookhaven,” Godbold said about the center which could employ about20 people.

The city has received a $1 million federal appropriation to beused for preliminary planning and site acquisition. The totaltransportation center project is estimated at $5 million, and CityEngineer Carl Ray Furr said additional federal funds are beingsought.

The center would combine the city’s train, bus, parking andother transportation services into one facility. Otherpossibilities for the center, Godbold mentioned, include retailshops, a restaurant, a national football hall of fame and the cityobtaining and preserving a nearby cotton gin.

An excursion train for sending people between Brookhaven andNatchez was also mentioned. Furr said the train is not a”far-fetched” idea and it could be used to tie in with visitors tohistoric Vicksburg, Grand Gulf Military Park and Natchez.

Godbold said the center would go a long way toward revitalizingthat area of town.

“This will be the cure for the eyesore of all eyesores,” Godboldsaid.

In county activities, supervisors are busy recovering from thepast weekend’s heavy rains that washed out some roads andbridges.

“It’s going to take several days to get our roads open,” saidDistrict 3 Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson.

In work not related to the storm, supervisors president DougMoak said bridge projects are under way in Districts 2, 3 and 4.Bids for a new library expansion project will be opened in April,Moak said.

Sheriff Lynn Boyte said the new jail is up and running, but washaving some trouble with leaks, and officials were trying to getthose corrected. He also talked about TRIAD efforts to providesenior citizens with 911 address signs if they need them.

In other legislative matters, Barnett discussed legislativeplans to address classroom violence. He said student violence anddisrespect for teachers are prompting many to quit or retire.

“We’re losing a lot of good teachers from that standpoint,”Barnett said.

Tom Monroe, chamber of commerce president, and John Endicott,Industrial Development Foundation chairman, updated officials onvarious chamber projects. Monroe was complimentary ofStreetscape-related tree plantings along Brookway Boulevard.

“It’s really going to brighten up the boulevard coming in,”Monroe said.

Endicott said four new IDF committees had been formed to addresssome local needs. The new committees are Industrial Park and Sitecommittees, Workforce Development, Existing Business and Industryand Business and Industry Recruitment.

On a banking note, State Bank President Phil Magee said thebank’s merger with Valley Bank is nearly complete. With the merger,he said State Bank will be the fifth- or six-largest state chartedbank in the state.

“We’re real excited about that,” Magee said, while alsomentioning plans to open a bank in Monticello in about 90 days.