Rupert Howell column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gravel business is complicated; perhaps more soon to come

The issue of the Eureka gravel mine operation continues to surface with no clear solution yet made available.

The county’s Land Use Commission has come up with a compromising type solution. But usually in compromises, no one is completely happy–although one side may be happier than the other.

The issue seems to be that opening the gravel mine operation as originally planned would change the pastoral demeanor of the community. Word on the street (road in this case) is that 200 trucks a day would be barreling down Good Hope and Eureka Roads at breakneck speed to deliver gravel.

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On the other hand, those in favor of the mine say government is trying to tell landowners how they can use their own property. They say it’s their property, bought and paid for, and they can do with it as they please. More government regulation is not a popular stance at this point in history.

But here’s something else to consider. A bypass, (hate that word–let’s call it an Alternate Access Highway or AAH) will soon be built around Batesville. If local, state and national officials can get together and if we don’t do away with earmarks altogether, the AAH will be the largest construction project in Panola County since I-55 was built in the early 1960s.

The magnitude of this project could only be compared with the aforementioned I-55 construction, or Sardis and Enid Reservoirs.

With the amount of dirt work and roadbed to be built when this proposal becomes a reality, there will be need for miles of gravel and other construction materials.

Where will it come from?

Beats me. But I do know that when those other large construction projects were going on, many and maybe most of the local citizenry was trying to figure out how they could benefit. The fact that the AAH’s eastern beginning is near the Eureka site in question makes one wonder how all the gravel and raw materials are going to get there and from which direction.

Those materials are coming from somewhere. Let’s be careful not to punish those locally who could provide materials and services while benefitting from this project.

Are we going to give others equal treatment or will their requests follow the same precedent?

Let’s hope decision makers move forward with fairness,  common sense and ultimately the good of all citizens in mind.

Just sayin’.