Thursday, July 12, 2006
Minor emphasizes importance of interstates
By BARRY BURLESON
Bill Minor was near Louisville June 28 cutting a ribbon to open 11.9 miles of four-laning on Highway 25.
The next day he was back in his home county of Marshall talking interstates at the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
The Northern District transportation commissioner is pushing highway progress and economic development.
“The 1987 Highway Program was done based on traffic count,” Minor said, “but it has brought economic development to us. Nothing helps more than roads.”
The ribbon-cutting in Winston County finalized the four-laning of Highway 25 between Jackson and Starkville. It’s “a historical event,” Minor said to applause from the audience, “that will open up four-lane travel across the state.”
Focusing on Marshall County, Minor talked about future interstates – I-269 through the northwest portion and I-22 (now Highway 78).
“I-269 will mean a lot to Chickasaw Trail (industrial park) and Marshall County as a whole,” Minor said. “I-269 is more important to us than 69. That’s the reason we want it done fast.”
Interstate 69 from Tunica to Hernando will open October 3 at 1:30 p.m., according to the commissioner.
Marshall County plans to use industrial development financing to expedite its portion of I-269, which will swing east and north from where I-69 merges with I-55 north of Hernando into Tennessee.
Another reason to finish I-269 fast is heavy traffic on Highway 302 (Goodman Road) in DeSoto County.
“That’s the heaviest traveled road in the state, and it’s going to do nothing but gain more traffic,” Minor said.
Interstates in Mississippi recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.
“They’ve changed our state,” Minor said.
Highway 78 will become I-22 following upgrades and once it links to another interstate, I-269, according to the transportation commissioner.
Comments from legislators
Minor, Rep. Tommy Woods and Sen. Ralph Doxey hosted the luncheon, which included barbecue and all the fixings.
Woods, in his remarks, focused on the growth of Byhalia United Methodist Church. He announced plans for a new 11,000 square foot en family enrichment center.
“Next summer when we feed y’all, we want to be in the new center,” Woods said. “It will seat over 600 people, and we look forward to it.”
Woods also praised Cargill, which recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Animal Nutrition Center on Highway 178 in Byhalia.
“They poured 640 cubic yards of concrete Monday afternoon (June 26),” he said. “It’s awesome. We’re proud to have them.”
Doxey talked about the “sound fiscal management” in state government.
He said the legislature “cut the fat” out of the budget and did not raise taxes.
“And we anticipate the growth in the state’s income tax and sales tax revenues to continue,” Doxey said.
Blaine Tooley announced the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce’s membership drive, tagged “Scramble for Membership - Teaming Up to Promote a Growing Chamber.” It will be held during the month of September.
He said there will be four teams of four people each calling on businesses with himself and Doris Lee heading up the teams. Tooley and Lee are the Chamber’s “tour pros.”
“We need all the help we can get,” Tooley said. “We want to make it as fun as possible.”
There will be prizes and incentives for each team.
“Bring in prospects and putt for dough,” Tooley said.
He said the Chamber’s goal is to involve as many businesses as possible in its efforts.
“We do a lot for our community,” Tooley said.
Karen Conway recapped the many recent Chamber events – including the Great American Cleanup, Staff Appreciation Day, the White Oak Classic, Leadership Plenty graduation and the Clydesdale Christmas Store Festival.
She was joined by Terry Rodgers, who called this year’s White Oak Classic “one of the biggest horse shows we’ve ever had.” It drew people from 19 states.
Ronnie Luther said the Clydesdale Festival was “real successful and raised a lot of money for a good cause.”
“We had record crowds,” Luther said, “and thanks go to the sponsors, the town and the many volunteers.”
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