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City gets $100K check from MDOT

DAILY LEADER / RACHEL EIDE / Community Leaders celebrate the Mississippi Department of Transportation's presentation of a $100,000 check Monday for adding sidewalks to the Alexander Junior High School perimeter, as well as repairing current walkways. On hand for the check presentation are (from left) Adam Northam, representing WGK Inc.; Eric Stokes, transportation director for the Brookhaven School District; Interim Superintendent of Education Stephanie Henderson; Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King; Mayor Joe Cox; Alexander Principal Roderick Henderson; Alderman at large Karen Sullivan; Ward 5 Alderman Fletcher Grice; and Albert White, district manager for the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

DAILY LEADER / RACHEL EIDE / Community Leaders celebrate the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s presentation of a $100,000 check Monday for adding sidewalks to the Alexander Junior High School perimeter, as well as repairing current walkways. On hand for the check presentation are (from left) Adam Northam, representing WGK Inc.; Eric Stokes, transportation director for the Brookhaven School District; Interim Superintendent of Education Stephanie Henderson; Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King; Mayor Joe Cox; Alexander Principal Roderick Henderson; Alderman at large Karen Sullivan; Ward 5 Alderman Fletcher Grice; and Albert White, district manager for the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Brookhaven city officials ceremoniously received a check for $100,000 from the Mississippi Department of Transportation Monday morning, the result of a grant request submitted earlier in the year, to create a safer walking corridor for students at Alexander Junior High.

Alderman at large Karen Sullivan, Brookhaven School District Transportation Director Eric Stokes, Alexander principal Roderick Henderson and WGK Inc. engineer Mike McKenzie initially requested $250,000, the grant maximum, to construct sidewalk additions and renovations on stretches of land extending over a mile from the school.

After a comprehensive analysis of traffic volume, structural repair need and other factors, the Mississippi Board of Transportation considered the area surrounding Alexander Junior High to be a “high priority” and agreed to assist with grant funds.

The city of Brookhaven will provide an additional $20,000 along with the grant money, increasing the area engineers will be able to make renovations. State/city expenditures of this nature typically follow this 80/20 percent matching formula, according to Mississippi Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King, who was on hand for the check presentation ceremony.

“This grant represents what life is all about: helping the community, making it safer for our kids and grandchildren,” said King.

Lincoln County is only one of five counties selected for distribution of funds, out of 27 counties in total, according to the Transportation Commissioner.

Approximately 1.3 miles of sidewalk would have been covered under the initial request. Under the current budget, city engineers will repair existing sidewalks with structural damage – such as cracks – and create new sidewalk additions.

“Currently, you have kids walking in the streets during high traffic volume, or in ditches, since the sidewalks are in such disrepair,” said Adam Northam, representing WGK Inc., engineering firm for the project.

Pointing outwards from the school’s front steps, Northam added, “We will make improvements in all directions for as much as $100,000 can spend. This is primarily about sidewalks … in all directions.”

Proposed sidewalk additions will take place on stretches of Washington, Center, Turner, East Chickasaw, East Cherokee and/or Monticello Streets according to a map provided by WGK.

“This is a good day for students,” proclaimed Principal Henderson. “A good number of students walk to school and it’s important to us that they are safe coming and going.”

Stephanie Henderson, interim superintendent of the Brookhaven School District, agreed. “This will encourage our kids to walk to school, which will help increase students’ health as well.”