Thursday, August 16, 2007
races go to Aug. 28 runoff
By BARRY BURLESON
Bill Minor’s long tenure of public service will continue with a landslide victory in last week’s Democratic primary.
The Holly Springs resident was re-elected to his second term as Northern District transportation commissioner after serving 20 years as state senator. Minor, who had two opponents, received 57 percent of the vote in the 33-county district. He got 78 percent of the vote in his home county of Marshall.
“I carried 32 of 33 counties four years ago, and this time it looks like I carried all 33,” said a happy Minor.
He remains modest about his success in elections. This next term will give him 28 years of public service.
“The people have been good to me – they really have,” Minor said.
He also credits the Mississippi Department of Transportation staff for his re-election to the commissioner’s position.
“We’re doing a good job at the highway department, and the good people who work with me are to be commended,” Minor said.
“As long as I was in the legislature, I always supported highways, and I think that has contributed to my success (in being elected transportation commissioner).”
Minor was extremely influential in getting the 1987 Highway Program passed. The 1987 Mississippi Legislature enacted a $1.6 billion program providing for an additional 1,077 miles of four-lane highway.
He said a goal now, in talking with the governor and other state officials, is reviewing the 1987 program and passing additional bills to continue highway progress.
“Number one, we have to get some maintenance money,” Minor said. “There was no maintenance money in that bill (the 1987 Highway Program). We have to be able to maintain all these new roads and we need to get more new roads.”
A quality highway system is also directly tied to economic development, he said.
“It’s been proven – you have to have a good transportation system if you’re going to bring in new industries, like Toyota,” Minor said.
Toyota Mississippi is scheduled to open in 2010 at Blue Springs, just 31 miles east of the Marshall County line on Highway 78 (future Interstate 22).
The upgrading of 78 in the Blue Springs area is already underway. That includes overlay and shoulder work.
“We will be working on a lot of roads in that area to get the traffic in and out of there (Toyota),” he said.
Some work must be done on all of 78 to get it up to interstate standards, including a new interchange at New Albany.
I-269 will also have a huge influence on Marshall County.
“That’s a big one for all of us,” Minor said. “It will really bring changes in Marshall and DeSoto counties.
“We hope to start buying land along the 269 route the first of next year.”
Other highway hopes of Minor’s in his second term include four-lane work on highways 15, 25, 7, 6 and 12.
The main one in that list, he said, is 15. The ultimate goal is to four-lane it all the way to the Gulf Coast.
“We’re buying land at Ripley and New Albany now,” he said. “Highway 15 has so much traffic – a lot of truck traffic, too. It’s our main problem.”
Minor, 64, has no plans of leaving public service as long as his health is good.
“I’m happy – as long as I can contribute and help build more roads and bring more economic development,” he said.
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