Push made to get MSA up to full capacity

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, October 8, 2003

The pace at the Mississippi School of the Arts could be pickingup.

MSA Executive Director Dr. Vicki Bodenhamer told the mayor andboard of aldermen Tuesday that state education officials had askedMSA leaders to explore an accelerated plan to bring the school tofull capacity as soon as possible. The school opened in August with65 high school juniors and is expected to be able to accommodate300 juniors and senior when MSA is in full operation.

Bodenhamer said MSA officials are reviewing what the acceleratedplan would mean as far as programs for the school.

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“We’re doing everything we can to get the campus to fullcapacity as soon as we can,” said Bodenhamer, mentioning thepossibility of reaching that goal within two years. “That would beexciting for all of us.”

One aspect of expanding the school will include getting fundingthrough the legislature for a second tower of the Student LifeCenter. The first tower took two years to build, but Bodenhamersaid the second tower would not take that long.

“All the support services are already there,” Bodenhamer said,alluding to the cafeteria, library, staff offices and other spacesthat were developed in the first phase of the project.

Bodenhamer mentioned the possibility of having classroom spacesin the bottom two floors of the new west wing, but she stressedthat those plans had not been finalized. She suggested thatbuilding new classrooms would be better than renovating existingbuildings, which still would be done as the school grows.

“That might be the most economical way to go,” Bodenhamersaid.

Bodenhamer appeared at Tuesday’s meeting to present prints ofLampton Auditorium, done by Wyatt Waters, to Mayor Bill Godbold andthe board. The gifts were in recognition of the city’s support inhelping to create the residential school for gifted artsstudents.

Also Tuesday, City Engineer Carl Ray Furr updated officials onseveral pending projects.


One project that has been delayed is the paving of downtownstreets. City officials had planned to use part of over $400,000 infederal funds to pave several streets affected by last year’sWhitworth Fire Loop water line project.

An early timetable had the work getting under way around Octoberand being completed before December. However, because federal fundsare involved, the project is being postponed to allow the city toaddress some handicap accessibility issues related to thestreets.

“We’re probably not going to be able to let that contract untilafter the first of the year,” Furr said about the pavingproject.

Furr expected the paving to be done around early March. He addedthat timetable would lessen any inconvenience related to doing thework during the holiday season.


Also, Furr said the Federal Transit Administration had releasedthe first $990,000 of the city’s funds for the Multi-ModalTransportation Facility. And some contaminated soil around theproposed site between North Railroad Avenue and North First Streethad been removed.

“We’ve got the green light from that standpoint and the moneyhas been released,” Furr said.

Furr said the release was a “major milestone” and the city couldstart to be reimbursed for some of the expenses it has incurredwith the project. The engineer said a final layout of Phase I ofthe facility should be ready in a couple of weeks.

In activity related to the Industrial Park Road overpass, Furrsaid the city will use some leftover funds to extend Center Street.Also, he said a right of way issue involving a new traffic signalat the North Jackson Street intersection had been resolved and workwould start on that soon.


Furr said the county will be getting $500,000 for governmentcomplex renovations. He said that money would used to address roofand other courthouse concerns.

The engineer expressed appreciation to the state’s congressionaldelegation in securing the Veteran’s Administration/Housing andUrban Development funds that do not require any local match.

“That kind of money if very difficult to get at 100 percent,”Furr said.