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Work progress on Caseyville road disputed

An engineer questioned progress on a $3 million road project inwestern Lincoln County Monday while asking supervisors foradditional money for his firm’s involvement in the work.

Jeff Green, an engineer with Pickering, said the Eddiceton toCaseyville road project is roughly 43 percent complete. The projectbegan in November 2009, but has been hindered by weather, bridgeconstruction and other unexpected delays.

Green said the project is now expected to be completed inAugust.

However, the $295,000 in funding for engineering expenses, such asmaterial use verification and other oversight matters, is depleted.Green asked for an additional $147,000 to cover the remainder ofthe project.

Green went on to question the manpower allocation and attention theproject was receiving from contractor Oddee Smith and Sons. Greensaid he has addressed the disparity between work progress and workdays spent on the project during progress meetings with thecontractor.

The project time period is 310 working days. As of the end ofApril, Green said 218 working days have been used.

“We should have really been finished up in late 2010, early 2011,”Green said Monday.

Green acknowledged some uncertainty over whether the county wouldbe able to pay any additional money for the engineering servicesand from where the money would come. Mentioning a similar situationin a municipality, he said the city could not retroactively pay forcontract services.

County officials said they would review the engineering contractand agreed to set up a meeting with the engineer and the contractorto discuss the situation. They heard Green’s request, but were alsomindful of county revenue.

“I hope everybody gets their money, but I hope Lincoln County’s notthe one paying,” said Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop.

Funding for the road project was the result of a federal allocationfollowing county officials’ visit to Washington, D.C., to meet withstate congressional members.

During a break in Monday’s meeting, District Five Supervisor GaryWalker said he thought the engineer should handle the work for theoriginally contracted amount. He also commented on road workprogress.

“I thought it was moving along pretty good,” said Walker, a former16-year employee of Oddee Smith’s.

Walker said he had been checking on the project twice a week. Healso mentioned delays due to bridge construction, which has beendone, and a period of six weeks of rain and bad weather.

“It got horrible out there,” Walker said.

When contacted later Monday, Oddee Smith and Sons Vice President J.Ronny Smith said the project remains on track.

“We’re within our timeframe,” Smith said.

Smith said the contractor has had a good working relationship withthe engineers. However, he did not speak at length about Green’srequest for additional money for engineering work.

“He bids the job like we bid the job,” Smith said.

Smith said he believes an August completion date for the road is arealistic goal and can be done. He said the weather put the projectbehind schedule but three crews are now working there.

“Weather put us behind, but we’re catching up fast,” Smithsaid.

In other business Monday, Civil Defense Director Clifford Galeyupdated supervisors on the situation in Smithville following lastweek’s tornado that decimated the Monroe County community. Galeywas there helping out from Thursday until Sunday night.

“They have no town left,” Galey said. “Basically, what they haveleft standing is a water tower.”

With the exception of Katrina, the veteran emergency servicesdirector said he has never seen anything like the destruction inSmithville.

“They did have some tornado sirens that probably saved a lot oflives,” Galey said.

Lincoln County Justice Court Clerk Sharon Lofton discussed thesituation in justice court in the wake of Post One Judge RalphBoone’s impending suspension after last week’s Supreme Courtruling. The court ordered Boone suspended for 90 days and publiclyreprimanded over inappropriate contact with a litigant in his courtin 2009.

Lofton said Boone has 20 days to appeal the court decision. If hedoes not, he will be reprimanded in circuit court and thesuspension will start.

At the request of Veterans Affairs Officer Steve Melancon,supervisors approved the addition of a name to the Lincoln CountyVeterans Memorial in front of the government complex.

The name of Army Lt. Jesse O. Paxton, of Brookhaven, will be addedto the memorial. Melancon said Paxton served in World War II and isburied in Florence, Italy.

Also Monday, five citizens were named to a regional railroadauthority involving Lincoln, Franklin and Adams counties. Theauthority is being formed to oversee a railroad line betweenBrookhaven and Natchez in the event the current line owners everdecide to abandon it.

Ralph Bryant, Brett Smith, Pat Ard, Cliff Brumfield and John Hugheswere nominated for staggered terms on the authority board. They canbe re-appointed to full five-year terms in the future.