Town officials look to Washington for street help

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, February 6, 2011

WESSON – The upkeep of roads is a major concern in any town.While most city officials want to ensure their streets are properlymaintained, it takes money – and lots of it.

Weather permitting, Wesson Mayor Alton Shaw will head toWashington, D.C., to meet with government officials in hopes ofreceiving a few extra dollars for roadwork around Wesson.

“With the amount of traffic we have with access to the schools andeducational systems, the roads could use some improvements,” saidShaw. “Everybody in town pays their local, federal and state taxes,why not have a certain percentage coming back?”

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Shaw, along with Jeff Knight, of WGK Engineers, Inc., will travelfrom Jackson to Baltimore and then take a train to Washington,D.C., Monday. While there, they will meet with Congressmen BennieThompson and Gregg Harper and Senators Roger Wicker and ThadCochran on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading back home onThursday.

“If I wasn’t optimistic, I wouldn’t be going,” said Shaw. “We’vereceived some favorable phone conservations and it has happened forother areas around here in the past.”

With a mile of overlay costing anywhere from $85,000 to $100,000,Shaw is hoping the officials can have a little under $1 million inappropriations put aside in an upcoming transportation bill for acitywide project.

Between the high school, Copiah-Lincoln Community College andWesson residents, Shaw said there is a road population of about5,000. However, Shaw said with all the nontaxable assets such asthe high school and Co-Lin, they lose roughly 30 percent ofproperty taxes.

“It creates a unique financial situation we are trying to getassistance with,” said Shaw.

Shaw added that because the mean average income of Wesson is toohigh, the town does not qualify for any grants through MississippiDevelopment Authority or Rural Development; therefore, the town isleft with asking for appropriations.

The mayor mentioned he would not know if the trip to the nation’scapital was a success until around September, but requests were duearound March. Even if Shaw is unable to secure the full amount heis seeking, any funding to help improve the roads would be awelcome addition to the Wesson bank account.

If Shaw is unable to receive the funding needed to complete thecitywide project he has in mind, the mayor said assessments wouldbe made on which roads needed the most help and plans would be madeaccordingly.

Shaw’s trip total will be under $500 and is funded through thetown’s general funds. Shaw said Knight’s trip is being fundedthrough a separate organization.

If Shaw can turn the $500 trip into a $1 million exchange, the tripwould be well worth it.

“You never know if you don’t go and ask,” said Shaw.