Bogue Chitto betterment eyed

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bogue Chitto residents may soon see a persistent drainage anderosion problem affecting the center of their community solved withgrant funds that have never before been available to them.

The help would come thanks to Lincoln County supervisors’enacting a new and as yet unutilized state program.

Supervisors agreed last week to apply for a $100,000infrastructure improvement grant from the Mississippi DevelopmentAuthority that, if awarded, will be applied to Bogue Chitto underthe Municipal Historical Hamlet Act.

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The act is a 2009 state law that allows unincorporated areaswithout local governments to apply for grants. The law was authoredby District 53 Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, and signed into lawby Gov. Haley Barbour in March.

County supervisors serve as the administering agents for thegrant, and are seeking it with the assistance of the SouthwestMississippi Planning and Development District.

“I’m telling you, it’s a good deal,” said District ThreeSupervisor Nolan Williamson, whose district contains Bogue Chitto.”With this, we can do some overlaying and some drainage work. Allthat water coming off Highway 51 runs all the way through downtownBogue Chitto. We’ve been doing what we can, but that’s great newsfor Bogue Chitto.”

County engineer Ryan Holmes, a civil engineer with DunganEngineering, PA, said the project would stop erosion and thedeterioration of roads by leveling, grading and concreting someditches in the center of the community, especially near BogueChitto Attendance Center.

Holmes said the plans call for ditch reshaping work alongMonticello, Brister and Peter streets, including the repaving ofMonticello Street from Highway 51 to the Bogue Chitto Bridge. Newstreet signs will be erected once the work is done, he said.

“It’s an ongoing issue that Supervisor Williamson has had todeal with,” Holmes said. “When it comes a large rain event, he hasproblems with erosion and he has to fix it again and again. Wethink we have a solution that will prevent him from having theseissues reoccur.”

The project is estimated to cost $114,500, with the remaining$14,500 in expenses not covered by the $100,000 grant to be donatedin kind by Williamson, who will lend his equipment and manpower forthe job.

“You give me $100,000 every day, and I’ll be glad to give you$14,000,” Williamson said.

Since the funds have never before been available to Bogue Chittoor any other potential hamlet in the state, Moak said simply beingable to apply for the grant is a success.

Since Bogue Chitto is the first and only Municipal HistoricalHamlet in Mississippi so far, Moak is hoping the community willhave a good chance at being awarded the grant, even though stateagencies’ grant funding levels are low this year.

“It can put Bogue Chitto in competition with some other smallcommunities, and we’ve never had that opportunity before,” Moaksaid.

Moak hopes his new program can continue to be utilized in thefuture for other projects around Bogue Chitto, like sidewalks,sewers and other infrastructure needs, which he said the communityneeds badly. He said the planned erosion control project was thefirst step and necessary before other projects can beconsidered.

Though it is unclear whether the grant will be awarded to BogueChitto, Moak said this first application would likely be theeasiest. He said one reason the community is the state’s onlyhamlet so far is because word about his bill has been slow tospread.

“I’m guessing that next year we’re going to have morecompetition because more folks are going to know about it, and moreare going to jump in,” Moak said. “We’re flying under the radar.You get the money, they take notice.”