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Lake project gets funding for road work

The U.S. Forest Service received a needed boost in funding tocomplete roadways at Lake Okhissa near Meadville, officials saidTuesday.

The lake has been awarded $620,000 in additional funding fromthe Federal Highway Administration through the MississippiDepartment of Transportation.

The grant will be coupled with $155,000 in U.S. Forest Servicemonies to build a paved road to the day use area on the north sideof the lake and to repair and complete the road leading to the dayuse area on the south side, said Tim Reed, district ranger.

“There’s still quite a few things to do, but we feel confidentwe can get them done in the next few months for the Novemberopening,” he said.

The grant came at a fortuitous time, Reed said, because theForest Service had exhausted its funding for the project.

“This support came at a good time for us to hopefully open thislake in the fall,” he said. “Without this funding we would have hadlower quality roads when we opened – probably gravel.”

The funding will complete a road from Highway 98 to the dam, butwill not be used to further construction on a road across the damand down the east side of the lake.

Also under construction are the north boat ramp and restroomfacilities at the south boat ramp, which has been completed.

Officials are eagerly anticipating the opening of the lake, Reedsaid, but are still waiting for it to fill. He said he hoped tohave the water level up by another five feet before the fallopening.

The lake will have 39 miles of shoreline, hiking trails, fishingpiers, swimming areas with beaches and playgrounds when it isofficially opened.

On a related note, a meeting of the Southwest MississippiResource Advisory Committee is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 12 at theFranklin County Public Library in Meadville to discuss the lake.The meeting is open to the public and committee members will reviewand recommend proposed projects.

A public input session will be provided for those who makewritten requests by Friday. Those wishing to speak at the meetingshould send their names and proposals to Tim Reed, DFO, HomochittoNational Forest, 1500 Highway 84, Meadville, MS 39653.