Senate passes $280M bill, some to aid local projects

Published 10:09 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A bond bill full of pet projects that passed the state Senate this week contains a few provisions for local projects.

Almost a third of the nearly $280 million bill is marked for improvements at the state’s universities and colleges. Another $47 million is for state agencies.

Copiah-Lincoln Community College is slated to get $1.36 million for facilities and infrastructure, part of about $25 million for community colleges. The town of Wesson is up for $250,000 to construct a new police station.

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Scenic Rivers Development Alliance could get up to $750,000 to help with repair, renovation and upgrades at parks throughout Southwest Mississippi — Ethel Vance Park in Amite County, Okhissa Lake in Franklin, Lake Walthall, and Clarks Creek Trail in Wilkinson County.

A bill that would have authorized the state to provide $1.25 million to SRDA to help with projects died in committee. That bill also contained $750,000 in parks improvements in addition to $500,000 to help the alliance purchase 150 acres around Lake Okhissa for a development project.

The project includes a 200-room lodge-style hotel and 1,000-person conference center at the lake. Authorization to purchase the land was made possible by the passage of the farm bill that included a special amendment by U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.

It was unclear if the $500,000 to purchase the land at Okhissa survived as part of another piece of legislation.

The Legislature often signs off on a bond bill to borrow funds for various projects. The current bill will go to conference where the House and Senate will decide on a final version.

Sen. Sally Doty of Brookhaven voted for the bill, as did Reps. Becky Currie and Vince Mangold.

Brookhaven received about $600,000 a couple years ago through the bond bill to construct a new fire station. That money is just now being put to use as the Board of Aldermen recently selected a site for the new station.