County road improvements assessed by manager
Published 9:00 am Wednesday, July 5, 2023
‘We can do whatever y’all want, but get your pocketbook out ‘
A familiar topic of discussion at meetings of the Panola County Board of Supervisors – bad roads and how to afford the cost of repairing them – surfaced once again at Monday’s first of the month meeting at the Sardis Courthouse.
This time, road manager Bruce Cook entertained the room with his assessment of the road situation in the county, and bluntly responded to Supervisor Earl Burdette’s question about the price tag for paving one mile of county road.
“I’m just asking because it came up in Crenshaw Saturday (at a political rally),” Burdette said.
“Well, since you asked, I’m going to tell you,” Cook responded. After qualifying his answer with stipulations about road bed repair before paving, and fluctuation of supplies, Cook said the average cost, lately, to repave is about $160,000 a mile, and often more.
“Everybody wants us to do all this work, and I’m with it too, but it costs money, extra employees and extra equipment and only about half or 60 percent of the people in this county actually pay taxes,” he said. “We can do whatever y’all want to do, but get your pocketbook out and start paying.”
“I will do whatever you want, but until then you are going to get what I’m giving you,” Cook said. “The ones that want everything, they don’t have a pot to pee in, they can’t buy a Coca-Cola. They worry me the most. If f you don’t like the county, move to another one, I’m good with that”
Burdette acknowledged that more miles of county roads have been repaired and repaved since Cook was hired about three years ago, pointing out that residents of neighboring Quitman County endure far worse driving conditions.
“That’s right, they have 6,500 people in Quitman County. Why do you think they all left?” Cook asked.
Supervisor John Thomas agreed. “If they don’t like our roads let them go to Tallahatchie County. Go see what they are driving on, it’s terrible.”
“In my opinion, y’all are doing a great job,” Cook told board members. “ If you get beat and then the next man comes in he’s going to wake up and realize, whoah, I can’t do anything, I shouldn’t have run for this. These folks that are complaining don’t have a clue what we are up against on our roads.”
Cook later said his frustration stems from the many phone calls he receives about road conditions from people who want better roads, but are unwilling to consent that money for repairs must come from some source – and that source is ultimately themselves, and other taxpayers.
Aldermen unanimously agreed that Cook’s assessment was accurate on public perception of road repairs, and thanked him for the positive strides made around the county since his hiring.