Stimulus Package

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 20, 2009

Batesville nabs its share of stimulus

By Billy Davis

More than $1 million in federal stimulus money is trickling to Batesville from the Miss. Department of Transportation (MDOT) to add interstate lighting and to upgrade traffic signals.

The new lighting will be installed at the North Batesville exit at a state cost of $800,000.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The new traffic signals will be installed at Highway 6 East and Power Drive, and at Highway 6 East and Woodland. The total cost is $300,000 of which MDOT, through the federal monies, has pledged $250,000.

The City of Batesville will pay the remaining $50,000, said Batesville Mayor Jerry Autrey.

MDOT is set to receive $193.5 million in round one of federal stimulus funds, Mississippi Congressman Travis Childers has announced. Additional funding, to be released over two years, could deliver more than $415 million to the state agency.

MDOT has already announced it will spread $10 million in round one funds among the state’s 82 counties through its State Aid office. Panola County is slated to receive $1.2 million in State Aid funds for bridge repairs on Mt. Level and Benson-Herron roads.

Local county officials have said they were disappointed with the lack of funds disbursed to the counties – only 12 projects were approved statewide – and hope more funds are coming in the future. 

The state of Mississippi expects to receive $2.3 billion from the $787 billion bill, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  

A majority of Mississippi’s share of stimulus funds will be distributed to cities and counties through grants and loans at various agencies, said Trey Hamby, program specialist with North Delta Planning and Development office.

As cities and counties learn about the MDOT funds, North Delta Planning is “fielding lots of phone calls about when can they get the stimulus money,” according to Hamby.

“What we’re telling them is that there is an application process,” he said. “Nobody’s beating anybody to the punch.”

North Delta Planning, which operates an office in Batesville, helped counties and municipalities ready “wish lists” in past months as the stimulus bill advanced through Congress.

The Panolian reported in January that Panola County’s municipalities, public schools and county government together requested about $145 million in stimulus funds.

Batesville has also received federal monies unrelated to the stimulus funds. Autrey announced last week that Congress appropriated a $550,000 grant that will allow the city to upgrade sewer and water lines in east Batesville.

Autrey credited U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran for securing the grant funds for the city.