County sites washed out

Published 12:01 am Friday, October 28, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Ernest Jones examines an Emergency Watershed Project site on Booker Road Thursday afternoon. Adams County is waiting for congressional approval to the Natural Resources and Conservation Service to fund nine sites.

NATCHEZ — Some Adams County residents are feeling the direct effects of a slow trickle-down of dollars from Washington, D.C., beneath their feet.

And the problem started with soft soil and grew worse with rain.

Adams County is currently awaiting congressional approval to the Natural Resources and Conservation Service to fund nine local Emergency Watershed Project sites.

The NRCS confirmed all nine sites fit the criteria, so the county is now just waiting on the federal funding to come through. And in order to meet the criteria, the sloughing soil must cause immediate danger to life or property.

Everett Jones, who lives next door to one of the approved EWP sites on Booker Road, said his neighbor, L.B. Mullins, had to move his own shed away from the St. Catherine Creek bank by pulling it with a tractor to keep it from falling down into the expansive gully.

Jones’ wife, Miriam Jones, said they discovered how unstable the ground was near the bank when their dog dug a hole in the ground in their backyard.

“(The dog) could go under (the ground) and walk the whole way,” she said, motioning the length of the bank.

County Engineer Jim Marlow said the site on Booker Road is one of the worst ones the county hopes to fix when the federal match arrives.

Board President Darryl Grennell said in the past, the federal government is usually eager to fund the projects that are approved and get started with construction.

“Two years ago, with the (American Reinvestment and Recovery Act) stimulus, money was plentiful to get,” Grennell said.

Usually projects are completed within six months to a year of meeting the criteria, Marlow said.

But some projects in the county have been on the waiting list for approximately two years.

Grennell said NRCS suggested they would receive federal funding for the projects this fiscal year.

“It’s just a matter of when,” Grennell said.

The total cost of the project is approximately $677,000, with the county paying a 15-perent match of $102,000 and NRCS paying $575,000, County Administrator Joe Murray said.

Additionally, the county will pay approximately $135,000 in engineering fees.

NRCS Area Conservationist Wesley Kerr said Adams County possibly has the most EWP sites on the waiting list in the state and certainly in the area.

“Because of the nature of the soil type and the highly erosive soil on the bluff (Adams County and surrounding bluff counties) tend to have more problems associated with stability more than anywhere else in the State of Mississippi,” Kerr said.

Grennell said the area’s loses soil, also known as windblown soil, is what causes the problems.

Marlow said some of the sites, especially the one at Booker Road, continue to grow worse and the erosion has crept closer to residents’ property since the sites were first approved.

Jones said the vertical slope of the bank at his neighbor’s house has lost between 2.5 to 3 feet in the past year.

Other sites on the waiting list are on Greenwood Plantation Road, Prince Addition, Wisteria Lane, Wisteria Street, Timberlake Road and Lower Woodville Road and two sites on Tubman Circle.

Grennell said the supervisors are not alone in waiting on federal funds to make it to the local level.

“The situation of the country in terms of spending in federal government is just tight,” he said.