Cover From Elements

Published 7:00 pm Friday, January 21, 2011

On one side, there are horses, market animals and a dirt-coveredriding arena. On the other side, there will be black-tie affairs,flowing red dresses and valet parking.

How complex the complex has become …

Plans have been approved for the installation of a brick andmetal awning at the main entrance to the Lincoln Civic Center, asimple addition that will allow well-dressed guests to enter andexit the facility straight from their vehicles and be protectedfrom the elements. The construction of the extended roof couldallow the facility to expand its reach and increase the number offormal events held in the big hall, said center manager QuinnJordan.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We’re looking at catering to a market we haven’t really beenable to. It’s an opportunity to expand our business,” he said.”It’s just a plus for the citizens to be able to pull up to afacility they own and get out without having to deal with theweather.”

Jordan said Lincoln’s center would be fitted with a metal-toppedportico supported by brick columns that measure 27 feet long and 27feet wide, big enough to allow cars and even busses to pull beneathit and unload passengers safe from the rain. The center is puttingup $35,000 – money mostly generated from events like the wildlifeexpo, carnival and RV rentals – to match a $35,000 grant providedby the Pearl River Basin Development District.

County supervisors voted to advertise for bids for the $70,000project Tuesday.

“This has been one of the biggest needs the facility has had – asafe, designated unloading area,” Jordan said. “It’s a buildingproject that’s long overdue.”

The portico isn’t expected to cost the full $70,000, and thecivic center commission will construct a new storage building withthe money left over.

The 30-foot by 25-foot storage building will be constructed onthe center’s northeast corner and will allow for the storage of thecenter’s tables and chairs. The furniture is currently stored inthe corners of the main hall.

If any funds remain after the storage building, minor work willbegin on the next project – an upgrade to the center’s audioequipment. Jordan said the audio equipment currently in use is notadequate.

The Lincoln Civic Center has experienced a growth spurt ofimprovements in the last four years, many of which have beensupported by the Pearl River Basin Development District.

Since 1998, PRBDD has helped the center construct its RV park,buy chairs and tables, maintenance equipment like tractors andbush-hogs, livestock stalls, bleachers, fencing materials and more,spending more than $309,000 on the Lincoln County facility.

Since the district was formed by the Legislature in 1964, it hasspent more than $1.16 million to assist with projects in the countyand city. The local governments have continued to contribute to,and receive from, the district, getting assistance with projectslike erosion control, beaver control, watershed projects and annualgroundwater reports.

But several other counties in Southwest Mississippi have pulledout. The district lost a lot of support in 2002 when Rankin Countysevered ties, and expected the worst when Hinds County withdrew in2009. But the loss of Hinds appears to have helped rather thanhurt, said executive director Mike Davis.

“When Hinds withdrew, that was a large amount of expendituresthat dropped significantly,” he said. “We’ve basicallystabilized.”

Davis said the district has a fund balance that will allow it tooperate cleanly until 2013, but then funding troubles could add up.He said the district would continue to lobby the Legislature forsupport.

In the meantime, requests for funding from member counties maygo up. Lincoln County will pay the district $61,477 in fiscal year2012, an amount equal to one-quarter of a tax mill.

“We’re looking at, down the road, having to request anadditional amount above the quarter mill if the Legislature doesn’thelp us,” Davis told supervisors Tuesday. “But that’s something ourboard has been unwilling to do.”

With such a handsome payback coming from PRBDD, Lincoln Countywill likely remain a member, said supervisors board president DougMoak.

“It’s good to have organizations like that to help us. They’vebeen real accommodating for us,” he said. “I don’t see any reasonwhy we would not participate in their program.”