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Transportation facility still in early stages

A master plan for a proposed intermodal transportation facilityis nearing completion, and there is the possibility for additionalfederal funding to help with the project, Brookhaven officialslearned Tuesday.

Architect Michael Barranco updated officials on plans that wouldconvert the area around the old smoke stack into a hub for bus,train and transportation services. In addition totransportation-related activities, he mentioned the possibility ofan art museum, art studios, a “sculpture garden,” and retail shopsto attract city visitors who are also interested in the MississippiSchool of the Arts.

“We’re in our fact-finding and are almost finished withprogramming now,” Barranco said.

Barranco said Greyhound bus services are currently with anindependent local contractor and customer totals would have to bestudied to see if there’s justification for a bus employee at thefacility. Also, Amtrak is implementing new terminal guidelines andBrookhaven would be among the first to work with those.

Barranco said those and other factors need to be incorporatedinto the master plan. Also, the master plan must be flexible toallow growth.

“We want to make sure we don’t design ourselves into a box,”Barranco said.

City Engineer Carl Ray Furr said the city has received a $1million federal appropriation to begin plans for the intermodalfacility. He said $2 million has been included in a federaltransportation bill this year, and the city would likely seekanother $2 million next year to complete the project.

Furr said this year’s $2 million is still in the early stages,but it has a good chance if it survives the congressional committeephase. He mentioned a trip by city officials to Washington withinthe next 30 days to seek funding help.

“We want to be able to get our table set for the fiscal 2002appropriations,” Furr said.

In other business during the over-three hour board meeting, CityClerk Iris Rudman informed officials that a $54,000 note on theSpecialty Minerals bond issue is due Nov. 1 and currently there isno water revenue to pay it. As required by bond issue provisions,Furr is to work on a water-sewer analysis and develop a newcommercial water user rate plan.

The difficulties stem from SMI using less water than originallyestimated. The city faced a similar shortfall situation earlierthis year, and SMI pre-paid $126,000 toward its water bill.

“We used that money to pay the note in May,” Rudman said.

Aldermen did not act, but could discuss the situation during aspecial meeting on the city’s 2002 budget. Budget discussions weredelayed last night due to the meeting’s length and a specialmeeting date has not been set.

Regarding budget matters, Tom Moak presented a request for$85,000 from the city to help fund Lincoln County Public Libraryoperations next year. The request represents a $7,000 increase overthis year.

Later in the meeting, Ward 3 Alderman the Rev. Jerry L. Wilsonbalked at city support for the library and other organizations andlobbied for pay raises for city employees.

“They’re doing a great job, and they need every nickel and dimethey can get,” Wilson said.

MOSQUITO MESS

Mosquitoes are apparently on the minds of several citizens.

“I’ve heard several citizens say that mosquitoes are worse thisyear than they can ever remember,” said Ward 4 Alderman BobMassengill in requesting the city step up spraying efforts.

Mayor Bill Godbold questioned the effectiveness of the city’sspray.

“I don’t know whether the mosquito dope is killing them or not,”Godbold said. “I think it’s helping them.”

Street Department Superintendent Jimmy Griffin said the city hadbeen spraying one ward a night to keep down overtime costs. If morespraying was needed, he suggested the city hire additionalmanpower.

“You’re fighting 59 different kinds of mosquitoes, not justone,” Griffin said.

Griffin said spraying is limited by rain, moisture and otherfactors. He said citizens could help by cleaning up property andreducing areas where mosquitoes could gather.

OTHER ACTIVITY

* Aldermen approved Airport Advisory Board Chairman PaulBarnett’s request to seek bids on three or four new hangars at theairport.

“We can fill them immediately,” Barnett said.

He said the current 19 hangars are occupied. The new hangars areexpected to cost between $80,000 and $120,000, depending on thebuilding.

* Alderman-at-large Les Bumgarner expressed concerns aboutrising cable television rates.

He said he was unsuccessful in getting help for senior citizens.He attributed rising costs to deregulation and was hopeful priceswould eventually level off.

* Domino’s Pizza area manager Lance Bowlin spoke to the board inresponse to Ward 1 Alderman Dorsey Cameron’s recent concerns overpizza delivery. The alderman at the July 3 meeting voiced perceiveddiscrimination concerns about the business not delivering to theBrignall area.

City Attorney Joe Fernald and Bowlin said the business hasrecords of deliveries to all areas, but it does not make deliveriesafter 11:30 p.m. Fernald indicated there had been few complaintsabout delivery practices.

“It’s not a problem of any merit,” Fernald said.

Bowlin said deliveries are not made to some areas because ofsecurity reasons, such as thefts or robberies. However, thosedecisions are made in the central office and not locally.

“The community is our business and we’re very conscious ofthat,” Bowlin said.