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City, county leaders note progress, plans for future

Mayor Bob Massengill and Lincoln County Board of SupervisorsPresident Bobby Watts today lauded city and county projects andcommended a spirit of cooperation between local officials.

One example of cooperation was officials’ recent trip toWashington to seek federal funding help with the new business parkinfrastructure and lighting for the Interstate 55 Exit 40interchange. Speakers at this morning’s Brookhaven-Lincoln CountyChamber of Commerce Quarterly Membership Breakfast were optimisticthe trip would bear fruit in the future.

“I never felt so good coming out of a place and beingsatisfied,” Watts said.

Massengill agreed. He mentioned almost-daily inquiries fromindustrial prospects seeking available land.

“This is the time we need to have the business park open,” themayor said.

Regarding the lighting, he said state transportation have noplans to pursue the project. Therefore, local officials are seekinga special appropriation through Congress.

“I think we have a real good possibility of that happening,” themayor said.

Watts and Massengill offered states of county and city addressesfor a large audience at the Western Sizzlin.

“We’re coming along well in the county,” Watts said.

Watts focused much of his comments on road and bridgeimprovements.

In District Three, Watts said a new $2.8 million bridge is BogueChitto is “wide open” after being opened for traffic Friday. Hesaid it is so wide open there have been some complaints aboutspeeding over the new structure.

For 2006, Watts mentioned planned paving projects along Heuck’sRetreat Road in his beat and the long-awaited surfacing of threemiles on Montgomery Road in District Four. In District Five, sevenmiles of new road will be built to connect Highway 550 with Highway84 in Franklin County.

“It’s going to be a beautiful road through the (HomochittoNational) forest,” Watts said. “It’s going to be a great, greatthing for our county.”

Massengill praised the community’s response following HurricaneKatrina.

The mayor said it was “tremendously gratifying” to see peopleworking together. He made special note of area churches’ assistanceto evacuees.

“They took care of a lot more people for a lot longer thanthey’ve ever been able to before,” Massengill said.

A downtown paving project got under way Monday. The mayor saidhe realized now is an important time for businesses, but the pavingneeded to be done.

“We felt we could not wait until spring to get that projectstarted,” Massengill said.

In addition to the paving, handicap accessibility ramps havebeen installed around downtown. The mayor said those were neededand were also a requirement under the funding arrangement.

“I think in the long run we’ll all be pleased with that,”Massengill said of the paving work.

Massengill also touched on several other city efforts.

“We’ve got a number of projects under way,” the mayor said.

Massengill mentioned the multi-modal transportation facility,which is awaiting plan approval; erosion control measures along theHalbert Heights Road ditch; sewer system improvements and a$120,000 painting of a water tank at the industrial park.

Along in the works is request to the state for a turn lane onHighway 550 at Highway 550. Massengill said there had been 10accidents in the last six years there and a lane is needed toimprove safety.