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City now taking aggressive look at ditch problems

Ditch and drainage concerns are moving to the city’s ‘frontburner’ with officials pursuing several projects to help thesituations.

First up, Mayor Bob Massengill said a city ditch-cleaningprogram using inmates from the Lincoln County Jail should startwithin the next week or two.

Massengill said an off-duty police officer will serve as thesupervisor for the inmate crew on Tuesdays, Wednesdays andThursdays. The mayor added that some details remain to be workedout with Sheriff Wiley Calcote.

“We’ve got that ball rolling,” Massengill said. “We’ve got thepeople. We just need to work out the mechanics.”

Police Chief Pap Henderson said Officer Larry Warren will be incharge of the crew. The chief was confident of the program’ssuccess.

“I feel it’s going to work,” Henderson said. “He’s capable ofgetting them to do the job.”

Officials believe the ditch-cleaning efforts will help withwater runoff in various areas around the city. City leaders,though, are also planning other steps to address the situation.

On Tuesday, aldermen approved development of a preliminarydrainage assessment of the city.

The survey, Massengill said, would identify areas and causes offlooding in certain areas. He said that would be the first steptoward solving those problems.

“It’s time to move forward,” said Ward Six Alderman John E.”Buddy” Allen, adding that the flooding issues had been on the”back burner” as officials focused on other projects.

Ward Three Alderwoman Mrs. Jerry L. Wilson voiced concerns overflooding on Center Street, Saint George Street and MinnesotaStreet. She suggested the city seek block grant funding.

However, Roy Geoghegan, planner with the Southwest MississippiPlanning and Development District, said drainage is a low priorityon the grant project scale. He suggested good documentation offlooding incidents could help the city’s chances if it decides toseek grant assistance.

City Engineer Carl Ray Furr said grant help could be availablethrough the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Also, cityofficials discussed working with the county on a flood mitigationplan.

Massengill was planning to visit wards next week to look atproblem areas for flooding. He said it is time to put floodingconcerns “on the front burner.”

“This isn’t going away, and we need to deal with it,” Massengillsaid.