County weighs options for costly road repairsBy PAT BROWN,
When it comes to road repairs in Simpson County the county seems to be getting further and further behind.
At their March 5 meeting, the Simpson County Board of Supervisors was informed that the county’s cold mix asphalt repair bill for county roads in February 2018 was $67,000 compared to $26,000 for the same month last year.
According to County Road Manager Ben Warren, weather played a larger part this year than last year, but paving costs are skyrocketing and there appears to be no end in sight.
Supervisor Danny Craft asked Warren why the county was not using hot mix asphalt, which is less expensive. Warren explained that hot mix must be used within a relatively short period of time after it is prepared or it has to be discarded. He said the amount needed is also a big consideration. If the repairs require a lot of material, Warren said the crew uses hot mix; otherwise, for the smaller jobs they will use the cold patch, though it is more costly.
Lance Pearson and Lee Hollingsworth of J&L Construction approached the board about their paving contracting business handling paving for the county. Pearson told the board he had been in the business for two years with Hollingsworth, who had years of paving experience.
Pearson said they do work for Jasper and Smith counties and that the work they do is done correctly. He said a lot of the problem the county is having has to do with the process they are using in the application.
Pearson told the board that some county roads were in such bad shape that they needed to be rebuilt, adding that water is the biggest problem on local roads. He said that it is extremely important to have ditches to move the water away from the roadway. Pearson told the board that the roadway had to be cleaned and swept as well as being dry before paving work is done. He also told the board that they must use road tack, which is a chemical agent, to allow the asphalt to bond when applied to the road. The county is not currently using this material.
Pearson offered to do a mile of paving for the county and allow the board to decide whether it would be more cost effective for the county to continue doing the work with the county crew or to contract his company’s services.
Warren reported that the bridge on David Sherman Road would be complete when one more piling was replaced. The bridge on Star Braxton Road needs five pilings replaced at a cost of $2,300 each. The bridge on Siloam Road will need four pilings at $2,300 each. The bridge on Lower Rockport was also discussed.
After holding a public hearing, the board determined that since no objections were raised they would close a section of road at the end of Tommy Brown Road. The length of the closed section is 55 feet, which went to one land owner, Mr. Bolton, who had made the request.
The board approved hiring Kayla Smith and Jessica Axsom as part-time dispatchers. Kevin Smith was hired as a part-time deputy. Kimberly Johnson was hired as a part-time detention officer.
The board approved Billy Seghini and Shane Fewell to attend training courses on the coast. They also approved Eric Still and Kelvin Jenkins to an NRA handgun and shotgun school in June at the cost of $945 each and an additional $945 to send Shane Fewell to NRA rifle school. Sheriff Donald O’Cain reported that the Sheriff’s Department will receive eight additional AR-15 rifles.
It was reported that Simpson County will pick up two new State Troopers after graduation of the current training class.
Sheriff O’Cain reported that he had been in contact with School Superintendent Greg Paes to develop emergency plans for county schools. He said he was also planning to make contact with Simpson Academy for the same reason.
County Administrator Rhuel Dickinson reported he had been in contact with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, which plans to close the Mt, Zion Road access to Highway 49. Traffic will be routed to the frontage road by Howards on Highway 49.
The board approved repairs to elevators in the courthouse and the Chancery Court building. One repair will cost $5,300 and the circuit is $6,385.
The board will meet again on March 15.