Expansion plan near, mayor says

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 16, 2002

City expansion efforts are progressing and an annexation planshould be ready for court presentation within about 60 days, MayorBill Godbold said Monday.

Godbold said he had spoken with annexation consultants Bridgeand Slaughter, who expected to have a plan in a week to a week anda half. City officials and consultants last met in early March toiron out some differences in an annexation plan.

Once a plan is determined, it can be presented in chancerycourt, Godbold said. The mayor said he understood there wasopposition to annexation, but that would be a court matter.

“We’ll just see what the judge decides,” Godbold said.

Godbold said the city is losing population and needs to expand.The mayor was awaiting the plan from the consultants, but the finaldecision rests in the court system.

“We know what we want, but that can be shot down by the judge,”Godbold said.

Annexation was one of a wide variety of topics discussed Mondayduring the quarterly Community Elected Officials meeting. Duringthe gatherings, city, county, school, law enforcement andlegislative officials discuss issues and projects under way intheir areas.

Other city issues raised Monday included a south overpass toreplace the closed Warren Avenue bridge. Both aldermen attendingthe meeting expressed concerns about the proposal.

One proposed location for the new overpass is near the SouthJackson Street and Natchez Avenue intersection. However, Aldermanat large Les Bumgarner said putting a bridge through a residentialarea would be like rezoning.

“Until we find a good place to put it, we’re kind of at a standstill…,” Bumgarner said. “We’re going to think twice before weput a bridge anywhere.”

Ward 4 Alderman Bob Massengill concurred with Bumgarner. He saidhe had received a number of calls from residents concerned aboutthe possible bridge location.

Carl Ray Furr, city and county engineer, said the Warren Avenuebridge was built by the railroad around 1910. It is the only bridgein the city with sufficiency rating of under 25, and funds toreplace it have been allocated to the county through the state’sLocal System Bridge Program (LSBP).

Furr said the options for the bridge are to close it forever,with the city facing the liability in the event of a collapse, orto reopen it. He said later that could include relocating it andopening it elsewhere.

Also in the city, Godbold said officials are moving forward withthe multi-modal facility. Furr said the city has received $2million in a federal appropriation and is seeking another $2million.

Godbold said the facility will improve the area around NorthRailroad Avenue and Willard Street and feature transportationservices, a museum and possible retail shops.

“Whatever people want to rent, we’ll be glad to put it in upthere,” said Godbold, who also mentioned possible development of anexcursion train service to Natchez and/or New Orleans.

Godbold also discussed some possible new business ventures,ongoing paving and sewer projects, and plans for the Whitworth firesystem improvements. He said there’s good progress on theMississippi School of the Arts.

“We’re still working to better Brookhaven,” Godbold said.

CHAMBER

In other reports, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of CommerceExecutive Vice-president Chandler Russ said industrial prospectinquiries are picking up. He said officials are talking with fourNissan suppliers and four non-Nissan suppliers about possiblylocating in the county.

Russ said the new EPCO plant is up and running and constructionon the Continental Carbonics plant in the Industrial Park shouldbegin in about nine months. Also, negotiations to relocate Winwayinto the former Auburn Sportswear plant are under way, he said.

Russ and Industrial Development Foundation Chairman Kenny Gozadiscussed the possible need for 40 acres near the industrial park.The city has an option to purchase the land but so far has not doneso.

“There’s a real good chance we might be needing that land thisyear for someone to build on,” Goza said.

SUPERVISORS

All five Lincoln County supervisors said there was a lot of roadwork planned for their districts. Board president Nolan EarlWilliamson said preparations are being made to do the work in July,and District 1 Supervisor Cliff Givens estimated about 80 miles ofstate aid work would be done this year.

In a long-sought project, District 4 Supervisor W.D. “Doug” Moakwas optimistic that about four miles of Montgomery Road in his andWilliamson’s district could be done this year.

“Hopefully, that will come together real soon,” Moak said.

Furr complimented city and county officials on their ability towork together to make Brookhaven the “hub” of southwestMississippi.

Using leftover funds from the Industrial Park Road overpass, theengineer said he hoped to have loop roads around the bridge readyto open in July. Also, the bridge is expected to be lighted, a newturn lane near Manufacturer’s Boulevard is to be installed and theNorth Jackson Street intersection will get some new trafficsignals.

“It gets real clogged in peak hours of traffic,” Furr said aboutthe North Jackson Street intersection.

OTHER REPORTS

Also Monday:

* Sheriff Lynn Boyte touted efforts of Triad, a joint effortbetween city and county law enforcement and senior citizens, tohelp elderly residents. He said the program has received a grant toput up 911 addresses at senior citizens’ homes.

* Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop said his office went “paperless”Jan. 8, symbolizing a conversion to computerized records. He saidhe hoped to be able to provide records searches via the Internet bynext year.

* New Coroner Clay McMorris said there has been 74 death callsso far in 2002. There were about 260 in 2001.

* Police Chief Arlustra “Pap” Henderson said police activitiesare going well, and he is putting more emphasis on neighborhoodpatrols. Also, there are more frequent night-time door checks ofdowntown businesses, he said.

* Amy Valentine, chairman of the Brookhaven School DistrictBoard of Trustees, said the district is facing about a $20,000shortfall next year after recent legislative action. She said theshortfall was less than what was originally expected.

* Dist. 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Dist. 53 Rep. Bobby Moakdiscussed recent legislative action. The senator said a lot of goodcame out of the session for Lincoln County.

“The arts school came out better than we thought they would atthe first,” Hyde-Smith said. “We’re not great, but I assure youwe’re a lot better off than what we could have been.”

She and Moak predicted officials would be getting a number ofcalls from constituents about Medicaid. Moak repeated his call foran outside review of the state’s Medicaid woes.

* Lincoln County Tax Collector Nancy Jordan said property taxcollections had gone well this year. She said a new receipt processhad reduced long lines in her office.

* District Attorney Danny Smith said Judge Keith Starrett hadreceived a grant to expand drug court for drunk driving offenders.The DA also mentioned an upcoming meeting with the U.S. attorney todiscuss double prosecution of gun violence offenders.

* Chamber of Commerce President Danita Hobbs encouragedofficials to participated in Attorney General Mike Moore’sLink-A-Life Mentoring Program. She said there are currently 160mentors in the program.

Meeting organizer Chuck Nelms, with the Mississippi DevelopmentAuthority’s regional office, said Lincoln County CEO program is themost effective in this area. He said several other communities havethe program, but they do not meet as often on a regular basis.