By Billy Davis
A late start to summer roadwork was delayed even more this fall after record-breaking rains fell across Panola County.
Road paving and resurfacing, after kicking off in late July, “is in question for the duration of the year,” county road manager Lygunnah Bean said Monday.
The road department uses DBST, a rock and oil mixture, which is applied when nighttime temperatures remain above 75 degrees.
Some road leveling and pothole patching, which uses hot mix, will continue through the fall as long as nighttime temperatures remain above 55 degrees, Bean said.
Bean said Monday the road department “cut” its first purchase order for road materials July 27. The last purchase order was dated September 4, he said.
Unseasonable heavy rains drenched the Mid-South beginning in September then continued through most of October.
In September, rain fell somewhere in the Mid-South every day beginning September 13, the National Weather Service has reported.
In October, Enid Lake recorded 10 months of rainfall that outpaced 2008 rainfall totals by 9.33 inches, The Panolian has reported.
When the rains came, the road department had begun its annual road improvements in late July, when county government received a $1.6 million bond. An additional $200,000, from FEMA reimbursements, has been added to that total.
County supervisors, after submitting their road requests, had expected 35.5 miles of road improvements from July through October.
A one-page road improvement update, provided by Bean, shows the road department completed projects in all county districts except District 3. In that district, roads Jolly James and Fox Run were awaiting DBST. Improvement to Nelson Spur Road was listed as 20 percent complete.
Road improvements in District 4 lagged behind, too, where only North Central Academy Road was listed as “completed” by October.
The remaining county districts, 1, 2 and 5, listed at least four completed projects.
District 2 fared better than all, with four road projects listed as “completed.” District 2 roads Shell and Seven were also listed as “85 percent” and “95 percent” complete respectively.
The road improvements are likely welcome news for District 2 Supervisor Vernice Avant, who is facing re-election in a special election now one week away.
The road department has spent 41 percent of the $837,120 budgeted for the current year, according to the road manager.
“I think the road department’s done pretty well with they time they had,” said board president Gary Thompson.
“The rain’s hurt everybody – farmers and all,” he added.
Supervisors have agreed to split the $1.8 million road improvements funds evenly across the five districts, an agreement that deviates from past spending that benefited some districts more than others.
Bean has said he hopes to spread the $1.8 million across a three-year period.