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Small towns can make big plans
May 09, 2014 | 161 views | 0 0 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
These days, with budgets tightening and funding scarce, the leaders of many of Mississippi municipalities cannot afford to take on new and costly capital projects in preparation for the future.

Some are forced to accept the status quo because tax dollars are scarce, and taxpayers already are carrying a heavy burden. They use their limited funds to keep aging infrastructure going, hoping there will not be a catastrophic breakdown in their water and sewer systems while continuing to patch crumbling roads and sidewalks.

In Carroll and Montgomery County, municipal leaders also contend with funding limitations. They also feel the pressure of keeping their towns in good repair while staying within the confinements of shoe-string budgets.

Over the past few years, a few of our local municipalities have made a plan of action to tackle some of their most expensive needs, and I must commend them for their ingenuity and perseverance in seeking ways to meet these needs.

For years, the Town of North Carrollton’s leaders have been plagued by much needed improvements to the town’s water and sewer system. Currently, those improvements are being made, paid for by two fully-funded grants.

At a cost of $150,000, the improvements include demolishing an unused elevated water tank near J.Z. George School, repairing the newest elevated tank, and painting and repairing the tank located in the Industrial Park.

Also made possible with grant funds, repairs are being made on the town’s sewage system. The project includes cleaning the entire system, defining the system’s problems, and rehabbing as much as the $30,000 in grant funds will allow. The rehab includes replacing sewer mains and manholes.

In Winona, the city’s sewer system has shown its age in recent years, especially with the winter’s record-breaking cold temperatures. Also, with every heavy rain, sewer pipes in low-lying areas overwhelm pumping stations and back up.

Water superintendent Frank Faulkner and his crews have managed to keep pipes repaired in the event of a break, and more than once, a breakdown at one of the city’s many pumping stations has created a need for emergency funding – most of which cost tens of thousands to replace. Thankfully, a way was found to repair the pump for a fraction of the cost to replace them.

The City of Winona is working to find funding to replace the aging sewer systems. The city is hoping to receive a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to replace a portion of the systems on the south of town that continuously experiences problems.

If the grant is funded, leaders hope to incrementally replace the entire system in the future.

In the Town of Carrollton, Carroll County’s smallest municipality, the Board of Aldermen must take a proactive approach to keep the historic town from falling into decay. Thanks to grant funding over the years from the Department of Archives and History, the town has been able to make necessary repairs to maintain and improve its historic buildings. Most recently, the town was awarded a grant to repair the brick and mortar on the Merrill Museum, the town’s oldest commercial building.

smallest municipality, the Board of Aldermen must take a proactive approach to keep the historic town from falling into decay. Thanks to grant funding over the years from the Department of Archives and History, the town has been able to make necessary repairs to maintain and improve its historic buildings. Most recently, the town was awarded a grant to repair the brick and mortar on the Merrill Museum, the town’s oldest commercial building.

However, drainage and erosion have plagued the town for many years, and the expense to correct the problem will be a colossal expense.

In recent months, town leaders have sought the expertise of an engineer to begin the process of elevating the drainage and erosion problems. They are currently seeking funding for a variety of sources, as the town does not have the means in its budget to fund the project itself.

In addition, after not being selected to receive a CDBG grant last year to widen and repair Hafner Street, a narrow, deeply ditched street leading from College Street to Lexington Street, the town decided to reapply for the grant this year, with the hope the project will finally be funding.

These are examples of infrastructure projects recently completed or currently underway. Kilmichael, Duck Hill, and Vaiden have also made significant infrastructure improvements over recent years.

In my career as a journalist, I’ve reported news from municipalities of all sizes – from the fourth largest city in the state to the tiny village of Memphis, Mississippi, (now Walls) in the northwest corner of the Delta. What I have noticed is regardless of size, the municipalities that actively work to improve, despite its obstacle or toughest challenges, are the ones that thrive.

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