DECD gives grant for road project

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Just one day into Mississippi’s special Legislative session on economic development, Natchez and Adams County got their own good news about local economic needs.

City officials received approval Tuesday for a highly-anticipated $286,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development for the rebuilding of Government Fleet Road.

The grant will supplement appropriations from both the city and county to serve as a required match for a $1.5 million grant from the state Department of Transportation for the same project.

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&uot;That was our missing link,&uot; City Engineer David Gardner said of the grant. &uot;The final piece in the puzzle.&uot;

With all funding in place, work on the road can officially begin, Gardner said, and surveying of the area should begin withing the next few weeks.

&uot;That’s the first step, the first of many,&uot; he said.

In an effort to stay on a state-mandated construction schedule, the Natchez Board of Aldermen and Adams County Board of Supervisors gave the engineering team permission to move ahead with preliminary work on the road in a joint Aug. 2 meeting.

Also in the meeting, the boards agreed how to split the cost of the road work if the grant did not come through.

Both city and county officials said they are pleased with the approval.

&uot;I’m thrilled,&uot; Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith said. &uot;Now we can get after it.

&uot;We were fairly comfortable because of the need (for the rebuilding project), but you’re never sure until the check’s in the mail,&uot; Smith said.

Board of Supervisors President Virginia Salmon was also pleased with the news. &uot;We’re ready to take the chainsaws and the shovels and get to work,&uot; she said.

The grant approval is one hurdle crossed with many more to come, and the work is only beginning, Johnston said.

Jones Lumber Company is one of several industries and businesses accessed by the road which will benefit from the project.

Kenneth Jones, president and part-owner of the company, said he is happy to see the project come together.

&uot;We’ve been trying to get this for years and years,&uot; Jones said. &uot;I’m sure the wheels are going to turn slowly, but I’m glad they are turning.&uot;