Board of Supervisors-new board

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 13, 2012

New supervisors question culverts, pot hole repairs

By Billy Davis

Panola County’s road manager, under fire Monday by two freshman supervisors, announced the road department may cease working on private driveways.

Road manager Lygunnah Bean was describing new road maintenance reports for supervisors when he was questioned about filling potholes and installing culverts.  

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Bean was attending the county board’s Second District meeting in Batesville, where new supervisors John Thomas and Cole Flint were attending their second meeting as elected officials.

After Bean announced the new reports, Flint asked the road manager about the use of hot mix, which is used to fill pot holes then packed down.

“How do you pack the holes?” Flint asked.

“Some (employees) run over it with a truck,” Bean said. “Some use a shovel.”

When Flint noted the City of Batesville uses a roller to pack holes, Bean replied that Batesville has only one roller and the county has six road department trucks patching holes throughout the county.

“Just beating it with a shovel — that isn’t working,” Flint told Bean.

Discussion of fixing pot holes then moved to discussion about installing culverts and spreading gravel, with Thomas and Flint peppering Bean with questions.

Thomas described a circle drive on Rock Hill Road, where he said two culverts were installed, and Flint questioned a culvert and gravel spread at a home on Barnacre Road.

Thomas said two culverts were replaced at the residence, when road department rules allow for only one culvert to be bought and installed at county expense.

Bean then noted that the former board voted to uphold a “culvert policy.” He was referring to a meeting he held with supervisors in 2010, when the road manager was under fire for installing culverts at a church in Sardis. But the road manager brazenly put the former board on the spot instead, asking them to decide whether to allow the road department to install culverts or scrap the practice.

The then-Board of Supervisors relented and continued a policy that dates back to at least 1989.

“This is a new board. A better board,” Bean said.

Citing a road department report, Flint said the second driveway entrance was approved for “safety reasons,” because an existing driveway at the home intersects with Barnacre Road just below a hilltop.

The new driveway entrance connects the home’s yard to a gravel road instead of Barnacre.

 “I understand the safety issue,” Flint told Bean. “But it’s his driveway.”

Bean then announced, “I’m about ready to throw in the towel in doing driveways.”

The road manager then suggested a “work session” to be attended by himself, road department foremen, and supervisors — which sounded similar to the meeting in 2010.

Supervisors also asked Bean to return with the culvert policies from Coahoma and Tate counties, where county-owned culverts are not distributed to the public.

Supervisors were not done with Bean yet: Board President Kelly Morris asked Bean for an update on long-promised improvements to West Mill Road and South Pocahontas Road south of Sardis.

Bean replied that Supervisor Vernice Avant has obtained 22 of 32 easements that are needed to widen the roadway.

As many as eight property owners live out of state and are difficult to contact, he said.

Avant and Bean held a public meeting in October 2009 to describe the county’s plans for improving the roads. The meeting, which ran for two hours, was reported in The Panolian at the time.  

At the meeting residents complained that road improvements had been promised for more than a decade.

Some residents pointed out that Avant was holding the meeting just eight days before she was on the Nov. 3 ballot for re-election.

Monday’s discussion of the promised road improvements coincided with a letter from South Pocahontas resident Myrt Price, who attended the 2009 meeting and who wrote a letter to the editor that was published January 10.