Mt. Olivet water

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 8, 2011

County hears plea from Mt. Olivet

By Billy Davis

The Mt. Olivet Water Association has exhausted its cash reserves to repair a water well that remains inoperable, county supervisors learned Monday.

The water association is seeking an emergency grant from the Miss. Development Authority, Mt. Olivet president Roger Hartman told supervisors.

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Back-and-forth discussion revealed a possible problem with that plan: the emergency request may not qualify as an “emergency” under current MDA guidelines, supervisors were also told.

Hartman appeared before supervisors with Jeff Walters of North Delta Planning and Development, which is seeking the grant on behalf of Mt. Olivet.

Grenada engineer Joe Sutherland, who is employed by the water association, also appeared before the county board.

A formal letter from Sutherland to MDA explains that Mt. Olivet has spent approximately $16,000 in emergency repairs but needs another $40,000 to install a liner and screen to filter sand.

The non-functioning water well is one of two wells, both more than 40 years old, that distribute water to approximately 375 families in the Mt. Olivet community.

The water system is working at half-capacity while the second well is down, Hartman later told The Panolian.

“The second well is keeping us going, but the water is murky from the sand,” he said.

At the supervisors meeting, Walters explained that Mt. Olivet may not qualify for an emergency grant because the second well is still operating.

If Mt. Olivet gets the MDA grant, Panola County cannot apply for a similar grant through MDA this year, Walters also explained.

Supervisors instructed Walters to research if the Mt. Olivet well qualifies as an emergency, then report back to the board.

Hartman also explained the water association’s situation: “This is our only option, this is our only hope,” he said of the emergency grant.

Hartman further explained that Mt. Olivet has plans to build a third well, but that plan is as far as four years away.

“What if you’re not approved?” asked board president Gary Thompson.

“We have no money to go forward,” Hartman replied. “I guess we would have to sit back—”

“And hope?” Thompson asked.

“And hope,” Hartman agreed.

Hartman told The Panolian the water association spent about $20,000 last year to repair the second water well.

“Rural Development requires us to have $25,000 in our reserves,” Hartman said, referring to the federal agency. “There are no reserves.”

In other county business:

•    Board attorney Bill McKenzie informed supervisors that an appeal has been filed in circuit court after the county board approved unlimited loads of gravel from three gravel pits in the Eureka community.

An organized group of Eureka residents, which had agreed to an earlier compromise with landowners, filed the appeal.  

The appeal will be heard in circuit court, with attorney Jay Westfaul representing the county, McKenzie further explained.

•    Sheriff Otis Griffin reported that the first federal inmates have been transferred to the county jail for supervision by the sheriff’s department.

Griffin also reported that some deputies have been transferred to the Narcotics Task Force for a push against illegal narcotics.

•    Panola EMA director Daniel Cole received vocal support from supervisors for the county to participate in a May earthquake exercise.

Mississippi and three other states are participating over three days, with Panola County included as a “priority county,” he said.

Cole noted overtime expenses at several county departments if Panola participates for a 24-hour period.  

Cole also requested to meet with supervisors for a “work session” to discuss the inspection of a communication tower and a proposal by Complete Computers for tower space.

The county board recessed until Thursday at 4 p.m. to discuss the two topics.