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Lincoln County plans to sue electrical contractor over damaged roads

Lincoln County plans to sue Chain Electric Company for allegedly tearing up roads.

Lincoln County attorney Bob Allen said it’s the only option left for the Board of Supervisors after numerous attempts have been made to get the utility company to take agreed-upon precautions to avoid damaging roads and right-of-ways.

Chain Electric, based in Hattiesburg, has been doing work in District 4 Supervisor Eddie Brown’s district. Chain has been working in the area as a contractor for Entergy Corporation for about four months, putting up high overhead power lines from Franklin County to Pike County. The project has an expected completion date of February.

The main issue, said Brown, is that the company is not following county ordinances.

“They’ve been given copies of the ordinances,” Brown said, “and we’ve sat down and had meetings with them. But they’re not abiding by it.”

According to the ordinances, no heavy equipment can be loaded or unloaded in the roadways. Companies offloading or loading such equipment must construct ramps that allow the equipment to be moved without damaging the roads or shoulders.

Several complaints have been made to Brown about damage done by the company, with the latest ones concerning long concrete poles weighing thousands of pounds each being dragged by bulldozers across roadways. Brown said although Chain has utilized mats under the poles while they’re being moved on the roads, the mats have in some cases not been large enough or have not remained under the poles during relocation.

“It’s tearing up the roads and shoulders,” he said. “Dry Creek Trail and Allbritton Trail are all torn up. Low Water Lane got impassable. On Maple, they unloaded equipment in the road. It got so bad we had to put wash rock out to get it passable.”

“As I understand it, the lines they’re putting up are not servicing anything in Lincoln County,” said Brown.

Brown said the county has tried to work with the contractor by not being overly strict on repeated permits or mandated routes for the trucks and equipment, conducting several meetings and placing several calls to work with Chain to both accommodate their work needs and preserve the roadways of the county.

“It’s like they were just going to do it their way, or else,” Brown said.

Chain Electric Company services 25 states and has full-time crews in 10. Jason Lee, vice president of transmission for Chain, declined to comment.

“I can’t really comment on something that I don’t know has actually happened,” Lee said, “because I have not been notified of anything.”

Lee added that as part of an ongoing project for Entergy, the company has instructed Chain to direct all inquiries about the construction project to Entergy.

In other business at a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday:

• Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop opened three bids submitted to purchase a 15-foot-wide bush hog from the county. The equipment had been out of use for a while and new equipment has already replaced it. The board accepted the highest bid, from Tim Pepper for $4,212.

• The board heard a report on a property on Lucky Lane owned by Donald Baker. It’s a mobile home with holes in the walls and floor, sitting on a lot that is overgrown and covered in various types of trash: chemicals, mattresses, furniture, etc. A hearing is set for Sept. 18 to have it declared a menace property — a public nuisance and health hazard — and order it cleaned by the owner. If the owner refuses to do so, the county will clean the lot and the cost will be charged against the property.

• The board approved a 911 address petition to name a private road in District 3 “Wisteria Trail SE.” The name change will affect residents at no more than five addresses, all of whom signed the petition.

• The board approved a request from County Emergency Management Director Clifford Galey to attend a mid-winter conference Nov. 14-16 in Tunica with funds already in his budget.

• The board approved a 16th-section lease request from the Lincoln County School Board by a vote of 4-0. Brown abstained from the vote.

“We have no control over what the school board does,” Brown said. “It doesn’t bother me, but we have no authority over what they do. A vote of approval from the supervisors means that we accept it and enter it into our minutes and we take responsibility for it. I don’t agree with taking responsibility for something that we have no control over.”

• The board approved a request to cover costs of a required training for County Veterans Service Officer Steven Melancon on Oct. 18-20.

• The board approved the 2017 land roll books.

• The board entered an executive session to discuss contractual obligations. No action was taken.

• Asphalt Zipper will provide a demonstration of its road repair and reclamation equipment for supervisors on Jackson Liberty Road near Hwy. 550 on Tuesday at 10 a.m. Supervisors from a few other counties will also be present for the demonstration.

• The docket meeting will take place Thursday at 9 a.m.