Officials say Washington trip promising

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 21, 2003

Lincoln County officials are optimistic about federal fundingassistance for several county projects after returning Friday froma trip to Washington to meet with congressional leaders.

“It went fine,” said Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop. “We got tosee all the people we needed to see.”

During the three-day trip, Bishop, Board of SupervisorsPresident Nolan Earl Williamson, County Administrator David Fieldsand County Engineer Carl Ray Furr met with the staffs of Sens.Trent Lott and Thad Cochran and Third District U.S. Rep. ChipPickering. The county delegation conferred briefly with Pickering,but the senators were in committee meetings.

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Williamson described funding chances as “very promising.”

“Everything went well,” Williamson said.

Two county projects, renovations to the government complex andextension of a road through the Homochitto National Forest, arecurrently in congressional subcommittees, Bishop said. Countyofficials are seeking approximately $500,000 for each of thoseprojects.

Lincoln County has already received $2 million in federal forestfunds for the Eddiceton-Caseyville Road to link Highway 84 andHighway 550. The additional $500,000 would carry the road north ofHighway 550.

A variety of renovations, including some roof work, would bedone with the complex funds if they are received.

Bishop said the county has identified projects for several yearsin the future.

“You’ve got to keep something in the hopper every year,” hesaid.

Bishop and Williamson said county officials also discussedfederal funding assistance to help in providing infrastructure fora proposed new industrial park and to help with an soil erosionproblem near a Bogue Chitto community center. That funding could beavailable in fiscal years 2004 or 2005, Bishop said.

Also on the agenda for officials were funds to renovate andexpand the county-owned Boys and Girls Club building. Bishopindicated that would be 2005 project.

“I thought our trip was pretty successful,” Bishop said. “Ofcourse, you never know until the money comes in.”

Bishop and Williamson commented on the increased frequency oftrips to Washington by officials from state cities andcounties.

Three years ago, Bishop said, 10 cities or counties sentofficials to lobby congressional leaders. Now that total is up toabout 40 or 50, thus increasing the competition for leaders’ timeand federal funds.

“You’ve got to get your name on the paper and be recognized andthen they’ll go to working with you,” Williamson said.

Lincoln County and Brookhaven have been successful in theirefforts to secure funding assistance on several projects in thepast. Getting that help, though, can take time, Bishop said.

“It’s not an event. It’s a process you’ve got to go through,”Bishop said.