City officials seek money for drainage funds

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 24, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering’s office is researching what funds might be available to make improvements to the drainage system that serves northern and downtown Natchez.

Although no specific amount of funding was asked for at that time, Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith wrote Pickering staffer Stanley Shows last week, following up on any available assistance for the project.

&uot;I had actually asked (Pickering) back in December during his visit here whether there might be any funding and gave him an information packet on that entire area,&uot; Smith said.

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City Engineer David Gardner said Shows followed up by calling Gardner’s office Monday to ask for a specific request amount.

&uot;I told him $1.8 million &045; what’s needed to match the Corps of Engineers grant,&uot; Gardner said.

Brian Perry, a spokesman for Pickering’s district office in Pearl, said that office will probably ask for the amount to be included in the 2004 federal appropriations bill.

That bill could be considered by a House subcommittee as soon as late April or May, Perry said.

A $7 million Corps grant is available for the project, but the city or another entity would need to put up 25 percent of that amount, or at least $1.75 million, to match the grant.

Meanwhile, local construction crews were busy Monday repairing an underground drainage canal that collapsed March 18 due to age and runoff from heavy rains.

That brick-lined canal, which dates from about 1835, is located in front of the post office on North Canal Street and is part of the north Natchez drainage system.

Crews were spraying the inside of the canal with concrete Monday afternoon, said Public Works Director Richard Burke. And massive box culvert sections are scheduled to be installed today.

The repairs are expected to cost $50,000 to $70,000.

The city, as well as Adams County, is pursuing U.S. Natural Resource Conservation Service funds to help fund other erosion control projects needed as the result of recent heavy rains.