Thursday, March 26, 2009
City plans uses for stimulus money
By BARRY BURLESON
The economic stimulus package was not only the focus of a town hall meeting last week but also a part of the board of aldermen’s agenda.
Holly Springs is definitely receiving $285,543 through the American Recovery Act, according to Mayor Andre’ DeBerry, and hopes to land much more.
He said the focus will be on “critical needs projects” or “community-based, quality-of-life projects.”
The $285,543, funneled down through the Federal Highway Administration and the Mississippi Department of Transportation, will be used for repaving some federal routes in the city.
“The state dictates which type roads can actually be paved (with this money), and they must be federally-designated routes,” DeBerry said.
First priorities submitted to MDOT, according to the mayor and board, are College Avenue from West Boundary to Memphis Street and Randolph Street from Salem Avenue to Memphis Street (taking in Rust Avenue).
DeBerry also got approval from aldermen last week to try and get federal route designation shifted from a portion of West Street and Hudsonville Road to J.M. Ash Drive. The goal is to use American Recovery Act funds to also upgrade the major industrial artery.
“If we want to recruit and keep industries, we have to do something about it (J.M Ash Drive),” DeBerry said. “It’s not designed for heavy weight/industrial-type travel, and it’s a major connector to the east side of Holly Springs.”
At the town hall meeting March 16, DeBerry also outlined other priority projects utilizing projected money from the stimulus package program. The projects would encompass some $26 million in projected funding.
The list included – cast iron (gas line) replacement, $6,100,000; feasibility study on the gas line project, $10,000; sanitary sewer evaluation system study, $650,000; wastewater treatment plant, $7,500,000; Marianna water distribution, $6,500,000; Mt. Pleasant water distribution, $5,200,000; Maury Street Playground, $150,000; natural gas supply study, $15,000; and natural gas supply Phase II, $1,500,000.
He said the Marianna Water Distribution project would include a water tank in the northern part of the city along Eddie L. Smith Drive.
“These are projects we’ve been working on, but we did not have enough funds to do them,” said DeBerry, summarizing the planned use for the stimulus package program. “We’ve done preliminary work on all of these, and most all are ready to go.”
He urged those attending the town hall meeting to get involved in the process by serving on committees.
“We welcome your input as we craft our proposal,” DeBerry said.
According to Federal Funds Information for States (FFIS), Mississippi is eligible for over $2.3 billion in federal funding through fiscal year 2011, with additional potential opportunities through competitive grants.
At the town hall meeting, DeBerry also discussed the Mississippi Economic Growth Alliance and Point of Presence (MEGAPOP) project, which would deliver fiber optic service to Holly Springs.
“This would allow every home serviced by the Holly Springs Utility Department to have high speed Internet capabilities,” he said.
But he added, that it’s not just about homes but about businesses and industries and the recruitment of new commercial and industrial development.
“We’re talking about progressing from a period of The Flintstones to The Jetsons,” DeBerry said.
The total project cost, which entails other locations in North Mississippi, would be $20,000,000. The city’s share would be $2,000,000. Total city in-kind contributions (estimate) to date included $925,000 – leaving $1,075,000.
DeBerry said the fiber-to-home project would benefit public safety (police and fire), schools, telemedicine (allowing medical facilities to interface all over the country), financial institutions and more.
MEGAPOP’s mission is providing infrastructure necessary to deliver advanced broadband telecommunications services needed to enhance economic development and improve quality of life for the residents of North Mississippi
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