Thursday, March 8, 2007
Leaders position county for Toyota spinoffs
By SUE WATSON
The Marshall County Board of Supervisors met with the local delegation at Monday’s first meeting of the month to press ahead on funding needs in transportation and facilities.
Last week’s announcement that Toyota will build an assembly plant near Tupelo appeared to have brought new momentum for advancing transportation initiatives that have been under discussion by elected officials, including a railroad overpass and connector road to Interstate 269 at Byhalia.
The board met in executive session with the home delegation, with Transportation Commissioner Bill Minor, Bill Renick, with IDA, and consultant Gary Anderson to discuss Byhalia’s overpass project.
Renick said he will develop a DVD that can be used to help promote the county’s resources with agencies and prospective industries looking for sites.
Anderson told supervisors a bill for $1.5 million to build a crisis intervention center in Marshall County was passed by the Legislature and a Senate bill for a $4 million regional mental health facility also passed the Senate. Anderson said he expects House and Senate conference committees to iron out the differences in the two bills.
The legislators are also working on the supplier portion of legislation for the Toyota facility, he said.
Toyoto has chosen to have suppliers within a 70-plus-mile radius of the Wellsprings site, as compared to Nissan which wanted its suppliers close by, Anderson said.
“We will know more about the infrastructure side as the session goes on,” he said.
The board also met with officials from Northwest Community College to discuss programs and then pulled in Betty Yates with IDA’s employment and job training force.
The board also revisited the jail expansion needs which was brought up by supervisor George Zinn III, who last month asked of the feasibility of restoring the old county jail facility in downtown Holly Springs.
Sheriff Kenny Dickerson explained that the new jail and justice complex was built after the old jail had been condemned by authorities. At the time the county was ordered to provide better housing, the roof was leaking and the sewer and water pipes were rusted out, he said.
He advised it could cost $1.5 million to restore the facility and find office space for tenants occupying the office space in the old jail. Having separate offices for the two facilities would also be a lot more expensive than adding cell modules onto the new jail, he said.
“It was just a thought,” said Zinn. “I would like to see comparative estimates of fixing that versus jail expansion.”
County administrator/road manager Larry Hall reported that four county roads that could be added to the state’s list of roads that need safety improvements are Wall Hill Road, Hernando Road, South Slayden Road and Higdon Road. More signage and striping would improve safety on these roads, he said.
Chancery clerk Chuck Thomas reported a report total for the claims docket came to $444,107 with $228,961 paid out of the general fund.
About $135,000 will be spent on striping of about 40 miles of county roads this year, he said. The cost of steel for bridge pilings is up at triple or four times the cost it was two years ago, he said.
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