Road conditions anger county residents

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 26, 2010

NATCHEZ — Residents of Deer Lake Road are angry about the condition of their road.

Carol Berry, who lives on Deer Lake Road, said because the road is now graveled it is a hazard. She said Adams County road workers can grate it in the morning, and by afternoon, it is rough again.

“It is on a steep hill,” Berry said. “There have been several accidents — one girl ran off the side of the road and her car was nose down.”

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Berry said when she purchased her house the road was asphalted.

District 1 Supervisor Mike Lazarus said a state government project that removed a wooden bridge did not include re-asphalting the road, and since then he had heard many of the approximately 150-200 residents of the area complain about the gravel road.

Since September, Berry said residents of the road have had to endure the gravel denting their vehicles as well as the dangerous steep hill.

Lazarus motioned to fix the problem at a March 18 Board of Supervisors meeting, but the motion died for lack of a second.

“To me it makes common sense, we’ve got the money in the budget, and we are going to pave the road eventually, so why wait and continue to throw money and resources out the window?” Lazarus asked. “We have to grate it to keep it passable.”

County Road Manager Clarence “Curly” Jones said the county sends a worker to Deer Lake Road once a week, often twice. Jones said it isn’t a huge expense — approximately $20 a trip — but Lazarus said every little bit adds up.

Supervisors Henry Watts and S.E. “Spanky” Felter said at the board meeting there are other roads in the county that need asphalting as well, so it would be fair to wait for a road bond issue to be settled before proceeding. Then supervisors could get all of the roads in need of work.

Supervisors have expressed a desire to take out a bond in order to fund roadwork countywide. But a lower-than-hoped-for bond rating derailed their plans. The county is currently working to improve the rating in order to obtain a $6 million road bond.

Adams County Board of Supervisors Attorney Bobby Cox said waiting on the road bond issue to be settled could become an issue that would delay Deer Lake Road getting paved for another year, as Mississippi law could become a hurdle.

Mississippi law prohibits supervisors from awarding a contract that extends beyond 30 days of a voting supervisor’s term. Everyone on the current board will come up for re-election in November 2011.

Law also prohibits supervisors from spending more than one fourth of the budget during the last three months of the term, unless the supervisor is elected unopposed.

Board President Darryl Grennell said if supervisors have money in the budget for asphalting, they should go ahead and do it.

“I don’t see any reason why we should wait on a bond issuance,” Grennell said. “From what I understand people are really having trouble out there.”

Two funds have line items that cover asphalting that would pay the $30,140 it would take to pave Deer Lake Road, Lazarus said. County Purchasing Clerk Rosa Wilson confirmed that a total of $107,276.73 is earmarked for asphalting.

“In my mind it is the right thing to do,” Lazarus said. “If I knew for sure that the bond issue would be taken care of in a timely manner, I’d say wait, but we can’t know that.”

Watts and Felter could not be reached for comment.