D.C. Trip

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Making the Trek to Washington, D.C. to request infrastructure funds were (from left), Supervisor James Birge, Sardis Mayor Rusty Dye, Dr. Steve Shideler, state Rep. Joe Gardner, Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons, and Batesville Mayor Jerry Autrey.

County delegation hopes D.C. trip will bring home dollars

By Rupert Howell

A group from Panola County recently visited their Mississippi Congressional delegation with a list of infrastructure priorities seeking $12.5 million in funding for  Batesville for the next five years according to Mayor Jerry Autrey.

Funding assistance is sought in the areas of roads, sewer, industrial park and drainage.

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The transportation portion of the city’s request begins by seeking $3 million for the enhancement to existing Highway 6. The upgrade would involve the stretch of Highway 6 from Lakewood Drive near I-55 to the train track overpass on the west side of town.

The second request is for $1.5 million for a connector road from Highway 6 to Eureka Road. This plan would utilize the existing dead-end road at Batesville Civic Center running south to Pine Lodge Road, connecting with Eureka Road near I-55.

Another infrastructure improvement request involves expanding the city’s sewer system to commercial development east of I-55 including the new General Electric Plant, Batesville Civic Center and Covenant Crossing.

According to the city’s request, $1.2 million is available from city funds and grants but the total project needs $5 million. Other development areas and existing residential areas are in the plans for upgrade.

Autrey explained that although lines already existed in the area, a larger line running north and south was needed for future development, adding an alternate line with larger capacity.

“The current sewer line drains through the middle of town,” Autrey stated.

The priority list explains that this request follows Batesville’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan that focuses on planned growth and future land use.

The airport property development for a proposed industrial park would benefit from the sewer line expansion.

Panola Partnership Director Sonny Simmons has worked with his board and Panola supervisors on the project that is currently on the back burner due to the national economy. That project also includes extending city utilities, improvements to Highway 35 and a new access road to the property.

The group sought $1.5 million for Phase I of development of the 170-acre industrial property  owned by the county’s Industrial Development Authority.

Autrey along with Supervisor James Birge, Panola Partnership board members Dr. Joe Gardner, and Dr. Steve Shideler along with their executive director. Sonny Simmons, and Sardis Mayor Rusty Dye, met with engineer Blake Mendrop to visit the Washington delegation.