Thursday, November 23, 2006
Byhalia precinct may change; Dempsey updates on old school
By SUE WATSON
A large voter turnout at the 3 Byhalia voting precinct November 7 pointed to the need to change the polling place, according to circuit clerk Lucy Carpenter.
There was not enough parking space and voters had to park on the shoulder of Highway 309 N which made for a potentially dangerous situation.
Carpenter told the Marshall County Board of Supervisors a week ago that she received several complaints, including that the fire trucks were blocked in the bay due to traffic congestion at the new fire station in Byhalia.
Carpenter said the facility would be adequate for voting if the poll was set up in the bay.
“I truly feel the place is not adequate due to the demand for parking,” she said. “If we do decide to change it, we need to do something soon to get the department of justice preclearance.”
About 690 voters came to the polls at the precinct November 7.
District 3 supervisor Keith Taylor said he had discussed the matter with Byhalia Mayor Scooter Dempsey and they agreed Station Number One would be more suitable.
“Before I agree to it, I would like to see it first,” said Carpenter. “I wondered, too, about the possible use of the substation (tax office and sheriff substation on Highway 309 N). The county owns that.”
“A lot of people in Byhalia want to keep it in the city limits,” Taylor said. “And at the substation you have a hill, which is not safe.”
Parking space, however, is abundant at the substation, he noted.
Carpenter said the large voter turnout was a factor in the election. There was not enough room for people to park and traffic officers were needed.
“I’m just making you aware there is a problem. I want us to study and be sure the facility and parking is adequate and there is not a danger to the citizens,” Carpenter said.
Previous to the November election, 3 Byhalia precinct was set up at NorthCentral Electric Power.
Dempsey said he favors the poll being set up in Byhalia rather than further out at the substation.
He said when the old Byhalia High School is fully renovated there will be 150 parking spaces at city hall, but completion of the restoration of the old school building is a way into the future.
Dempsey said everyone wanted to try the Station 2 location this year because it was a new facility to showcase.
“But traffic was not working at all,” he said.
He said fire protection was never an issue because Station Number One was available to take calls.
Other Byhalia news
Highway 309 through the Town of Byhalia was resurfaced recently making driving safer and more pleasant.
Dempsey offered a word of thanks to the board of supervisors and to Taylor for making the repairs through town on 309.
Remodeling of the old Byhalia School for use by the town is coming in stages with the removal of a front put on the school in the 1970s.
The demolition of that space brings the facade back as it appeared when originally built.
Dempsey said a small municipal grant was used for the demolition with some funds left over to put toward restoring the old gym. A new roof and some work inside is being done with the remainder of the grant monies, he said. When complete, the town wants to use the gym for a youth basketball program. The gym will likely be ready next year, he said.
Dempsey said the town has applied for a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to continue remodeling the old school for municipal uses.
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