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Officials push light, road projects in Wash. trip

Lincoln County officials are optimistic that a trip toWashington earlier this week will prove fruitful for several countyprojects.

“If you want any money, that’s where you got to go. You have tokeep that relationship with them,” said District One Supervisor theRev. Jerry Wilson. “It was very informative. I believe we’ll getthe money.”

While not quite as optimistic as Wilson, County AdministratorDavid Fields was also pleased with how well the trip went.

“We got a positive response,” he said. “They’re inappropriations time until March and we had some good meetings.”

Wilson, District Two Supervisor Bobby Watts, Fields and CountyEngineer Carl Ray Furr left Monday for Washington and returnedWednesday. The Lincoln County representatives met Tuesday withThird Congressional District Rep. Chip Pickering and the staffs ofSens. Trent Lott and Thad Cochran.

Lott and Cochran had planned to meet with the countryrepresentatives personally, Fields said, but were called to thefloor unexpectedly.

The primary focus of the trip was to restore funding for thelighting cluster at the Brookway Boulevard and Interstate 55interchange and Homochitto Road construction.

“We tried to reiterate some projects that we’re working with thecity on and a few others,” Fields said.

The lighting cluster and Homochitto Road funds had beenappropriated and were the product of previous visits to Washingtonby county and city officials, Fields said. However, with the recent”changing of the guard” on Capitol Hill, when Democrats supplantedRepublicans in the majority, the projects were removed.

“We feel pretty confident we’ll get that back in,” Fieldssaid.

Wilson agreed.

“They said they’re going to fight for us on that. I think we’llget it,” he said. “It was taken out, but they’re going to put itback in.”

County officials also strived to impress the senators andrepresentative on the importance of completing the infrastructureat LinBrook Business Park.

Although they understood the importance of the project to thelocal economy, officials here said the senators and representativeindicated they were skeptical that they could push any fundingthrough for the project this session.

“It’s hard to say right now,” Fields said. “They’re going totry.”

County officials also addressed the need for improvements at theLincoln County Multi-Purpose Complex and a proposed seven-fieldbaseball complex there, and the Brookhaven Boys and Girls Clubbuilding.

“I think they will be something we can get funded,” Fields said.”That’s something we’ll just have to watch over the nextmonth.”

It might be possible to get funding for those projects throughgrant appropriations from the Department of Housing and UrbanDevelopment, he said.

The need for costly improvements on Jackson-Liberty Drive andthe River Road project also received some discussion, Fieldssaid.

County officials are hoping to improve Jackson-Liberty Drivefrom county line to county line while the River Road projectincludes costly improvements on Hog Chain and Pricedale Roads tobring the entire length up to federal and state aid standards.

“The ideal thing would be to get one in the ’08 and one in the’09 budgets,” Fields said.

Watts was unavailable for comment Thursday regarding this week’strip.

The Washington trips have proven beneficial in the past, hesaid. Including the funding for the Brookway Boulevard interchangeand Homochitto Road projects, the trips have resulted in more than$6.7 million in federal funding for local endeavors.

“They’re not just going to fly a plane over Lincoln County anddrop the money,” Fields said. “There are so many counties andcities competing for those funds you have to show you need itmore.”