Supervisors to pick lease or road facility

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 18, 2000

Supervisors are debating whether to use a piece of county land as a central road maintenance facility or to lease it to a county resident for a new business.

The property in question is located on Seargent S. Prentiss Drive and Liberty Road, between Kroger and Natchez Cold Storage.

Local resident Dan Wells – who operates a fruit stand across from Natchez Mall – wants to lease the property and build a facility to process pecans and build rocking chairs, supervisors said. For the county to lease the property, supervisors will first have to advertise for bids.

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Supervisor Sammy Cauthen said the property is too small for the road department. The board should lease the property, Cauthen said, because &uot;we’re not getting any money out of the property now.&uot;

Wells told the supervisors he could employ five people at the plant, with the most work during pecan season, Cauthen said.

Cauthen said Wells first expressed interest in the property in February, so he said he thinks the supervisors need to give Wells an answer. &uot;I think we need to either tell him we’re going to keep it or we’re not,&uot; Cauthen said.

Wells wants to build his own building at the site, so he would probably want at least a 15-year lease to the property to justify his investment, Cauthen said.

But some officials do not want to lease the property because they think the county needs a central road management office.

Supervisor president Virginia Salmon said the property should be used by the road department because of its central location. Also, if Adams County had a central road facility, it would bring the county in better compliance with the unit system – a centralized form of government under which the county operates, Salmon said. The unit system eliminated the beat system, under which each of the five supervisor districts operated independent departments.

Salmon said she thinks the property is large enough for the road department.

&uot;It’s large enough to put most of (the road) equipment,&uot; Salmon said.

Adams County Road Manager Russell Dorris also said he thinks the county needs a central road office.

&uot;It’s been my desire to have a central facility since I came here,&uot; said Dorris, who has worked for the county for about four years.

Dorris’s office is located near the Liberty Road property, but his department keeps equipment at three sites – Liberty Road, Foster Mound Road and Majorca Road. Road crew workers report each day to one of these sites to begin their work.

Dorris said he thinks it would be easier and more cost-efficient to have all the road department employees at the same place. &uot;If all of the (crew members) were in one location, it would simplify dispatching work duties each day,&uot; he said.

The property Dorris would like for the central office covers almost two acres and runs from Kroger to a road connecting Seargent S. Prentiss Drive and Liberty Road. &uot;I think it would be an ideal location for a central road maintenance facility,&uot; he said. &uot;From a management standpoint. it appears that it is the most central location we have available to us.&uot;

Supervisor Lynwood Easterling said he wants to research the issue to find out which option &uot;would benefit the county and the taxpayers.&uot;

Easterling said he wants to help Wells find another location for his business if the property is better suited for the road department

The board of supervisors also leases another piece of property on Liberty Road to a private business, Natchez Cold Storage.

On Monday, the board voted to renew a five-year lease to Natchez Cold Storage with the stipulation it may be canceled if the Natchez Trace Parkway is built into that area.

Board attorney Marion Smith said the supervisors may not be able to renew that lease unless the terms of the lease allowed for the extension.