Thursday, July 19, 2012
Truck traffic up; weight limits set
By SUE WATSON
With business up in the county, the Marshall County Board of Supervisors took measures to stop heavy hauling on several north/south county roads.
Weight limits for bridges will be posted at 57,000 pounds on Cayce Road between Highway 78 and Highway 302 and on Red Banks Road and S. Slayden Road. Highway 7 North is already posted.
Supervisors said about 100 sand trucks a day have been running across Cayce Road tearing up the road. Supervisors had stopped Lehman Roberts from hauling over that stretch of road and now supervisors plan to stop Standard Construction from doing the same. The trucks, loaded with sand or gravel, weigh 80,000 pounds and the county roads and bridges are not built to carry that much weight and traffic a day from haulers, the board said.
County administrator Larry Hall said he would post weight limits on these roads, then write letters to haulers and get the state to monitor the route with scales.
“If you shut down Lehman Roberts, you can’t let Standard do it,” he said. “We spend half of our road and bridge budget to try to keep these roads up.”
Hall said the haulers are “boxed in” on the north/south roads because there are no state roads to go over.
“Maybe we should spend more money on Cayce Road,” supervisor George Zinn III said.
He asked the board to also post weight limits on St. Paul Road between Highway 309 South and S. Victoria Road.
Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett then requested the board also post limits on Potts Camp Road from Highway 349 in Potts Camp to Old Highway 7 South in Waterford.
Supervisors considered letting trucks travel north/south on Highway 311 from Holly Springs to Mt. Pleasant. They would also lower the speed limit to slow trucks down over that route.
Hall said the state had spent money on overlay on some big roads while not putting money on bridge improvements.
“We are now boxed into building bridges with no budget,” he said.
In fairground matters, Barry Thomas, a member of the Marshall County Fairgrounds board of directors, reported the board is considering logging timber by thinning to keep the woods from deteriorating. The money would be applied to the note, he said. The pine would be select cut.
Bennett asked if the fairgrounds board has authority to do it since taxpayers have no say in the matter. No elected officials direct the fairgrounds, he said.
Thomas said that was the reason for his visit, to get the nod from supervisors. There are about 110 acres of timber managed by experts from Mississippi State, which recommended the thinning.
Supervisor Charles Terry suggested the board revisit the contract with the fairgrounds to see if elected officials should have some authority “over what goes on, not to run it.”
Bennett asked when the note would be paid off and Thomas said in 2017-2018.
Bennett wanted to know if the millage charged for the fairgrounds could be reduced.
“Any contract can be amended,” Hall said.
“Schneller (William) wrote the contract, and Schneller knows how to break it,” said chancery clerk Chuck Thomas.
Bennett said taxpayers bombard him with questions on why no elected officials oversee the fairgrounds. Terry said the contract sounds like those with charter schools – the state gives them a budget but the local government has no authority.
Supervisors took up the Code Red emergency warning system after emergency management coordinator Hugh Hollowell reported the county could get weather warnings and participate for around $15,000 a year. The system can also issue hazmat warnings over E911 using the Code Red system, he said.
The board voted to pursue signing on with Code Red, following a motion by Eddie Dixon, seconded by Zinn.
Board consultant Gary Anderson reported that $20 million earmarked for the bond bill for bridges will likely go into the legislative bond bill, if one passes this year. The U.S. Senate has passed a highway bill and a farm bill for the next five years. If the U.S. House ratifies the bills, the state can leverage its revenues to bring in federal highway dollars.
“You may get something for Cayce Road or other areas,” he suggested.
The board should be thinking of these matters, Anderson said.
He then congratulated supervisor Eddie Dixon, who was elected third vice president of the Mississippi Association of Supervisors. Dixon will move up to second and then first VP, then take the president’s seat.
“Supervisors are where the rubber meets the road and that representation is felt in Jackson,” Anderson said.
Dixon reported that MAS is concerned about charter schools in the state which will take dollars from the public schools, as well as the brightest students.
“The money will follow the child,” Dixon said.
Zinn said he does not see the local school boards being given authority in the decision on charter schools.
“It’s hard to know what’s going to happen,” Bennett added.
Next, the board authorized the purchase of four tractors and mowers and to replace a backhoe that was stolen recently.
Hall said the county has no leads on who stole the CAT backhoe. Witnesses stated they saw the backhoe being hauled off on a gooseneck trailer with the trailer tires smoking. Anyone with information on who may be responsible for taking the backhoe from McClure Road is asked to report tips to the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department.
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