As road crews enter the yearâ€™s final three-month stretch, County Road Manager Victor Collins says Oktibbeha County is mostly on schedule with its assigned work within its four-year road plan.
The year hasnâ€™t been without its delays, as Collins says his crews are approximately 75-80 percent complete with this yearâ€™s work. As the seasons change, he said his crews will work hard to finish as many projects as possible before winter weather conditions slow down the groupâ€™s efforts.
â€śEverything that we have to reclaim and pave, we plan to have all of those roads paved by the end of the year; we should have build work completed on Harris Road; and we want to get in on Reform Road and get that cleared and mostly built if possible,â€ť Collins said. â€śWeâ€™re mostly on target with our plan. We should have been finished with Harris and Pat Station (roads), but (right-of-way) signature collection took longer. Collecting signatures and making sure paperwork is in place has been the thing thatâ€™s slowed us down.â€ť
Earlier this year, Oktibbeha County acquired a 2013 Freightliner truck equipped with a 24-foot liquid asphalt distributor. Collins says that acquisition allowed his crews to work quicker and more effectively than a previous two-man, 1983 model allowed in the past.
â€śItâ€™s a nice machine and itâ€™s making work so much easier,â€ť he said. â€śYou wonder how you did without it.â€ť
Once cooler temperatures take hold in northern Mississippi, Collins said road crews transition from paving and chip-sealing efforts to pot hole maintenance and equipment upkeep. This transition normally happens by mid-November.
â€śEven big contractor jobs stop then because of the temperature change. As far as if we have a good, dry winter, weâ€™ll keep all of our clearing and building projects going. If it holds, weâ€™ll go right on through the winter months â€” we wonâ€™t stop,â€ť he said. â€śWinter does though give us a chance to do a lot of upkeep and pot hole work â€” thatâ€™s the biggest part of what we do in the winter.â€ť
County mosquito spraying efforts will also continue through the year as the mercury drops in area thermometers. Collinsâ€™ crews currently divide the county between two spray crews. Those crews begin spraying in more-populated areas while working their way to the most outlying areas of Oktibbeha County. Once a crew finishes its sweep, the process begins again.
In March, Collins unveiled the countyâ€™s $10.08 million, four-year road plan. According to the plan, the county will reclaim 23.6 miles, build 23.6 miles and pave 19.75 miles. District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer has made three public calls for extra road funding through bond issuances, proposing note amounts ranging from $9.5 million to $3 million. Each bond-intent notice was defeated by a majority board of supervisors vote.
In September, Trainer said the board needed to secure extra road funding to accomplish more of its four-year road plan new before increasing price fluctuations associated with materials and gasoline drive costs higher. The countyâ€™s previous four-year road plan was delayed by weather and funding issues, he said in January.
â€śSince Iâ€™ve been on the board, we get less and less done because costs are going higher and higher. I think (securing extra funding for road construction and maintenance issues) is absolutely critical, especially considering the time element. We canâ€™t control the costs of increasing products and services. The time value of money is what weâ€™re up against. We know a dollar today wonâ€™t have the same purchasing power next year or 10 years down the line.â€ť Trainer said in September. â€śIt would be cheaper to do a project now than 15 years from now. We need to maximize the here and now with our borrowing authority.â€ť
Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Marvell Howard said the road department has performed its job well this year following previous yearsâ€™ delays. When asked if he would support a future road bond, Howard said the board would be prudent to analyze the direction and abilities of its road department and its capabilities. Howard voted against each of Trainerâ€™s three bond-issue notices.
â€śI think weâ€™re heading in the right direction, and I think weâ€™ll always continue to look for ways to tweak the process to make it better and more efficient,â€ť Howard said. â€śAs with anything, thereâ€™s always room for re-assessment. From year to year, I think we would be slacking a little in our duties if we didnâ€™t re-assess our department and look to see if it would be beneficial to float some sort of bond. Iâ€™m never against re-assessing, but at this time Iâ€™m very pleased with the progress our department has made and the direction weâ€™re heading in.â€ť