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Delta Bridge project gets new leadership at the helm
The Delta Bridge project may have lost a key organizer when Jack Hill left town, but a new face is already in place.
Lois McMurchy, who formerly worked with Coahoma Community College, has been named vice president of community development for the local Delta Bridge project and has already hit the ground running. McMurchy provided a report as part of the Industrial Foundation board meeting held Tuesday at the Chamber of Commerce.
Funded chiefly by the Walton Foundation and Southern Bancorp, the Delta Bridge project works with community leaders to create grassroots initiatives for socio-economic growth and revitalization.
“This has already begun in Phillips County, Ark., and there have been some really remarkable programs,” McMurchy said. “We look forward to what can be done here.”
Various planning discussions and focus groups will be held through September, McMurchy said, and the funding phase will kick in after strategic planning is completed. Typically a 15-20 year initiative, Delta Bridges seeks to impact positive change for health, housing, education, economic development, etc.
Willis Frazer of Covenant Bank is also involved in the Delta Bridge project.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for Coahoma County,” Frazer said. “We need participation by a lot of people to make this work. We can’t just sit back and wait to be handed money.”
In the county report, Coahoma County Board President Tim Burrel said the county is prepared to embark on a $7 million utility project that will improve water and sewer lines at four major intersections. Another water project will see chlorinator improvements for the lines going to the Bobo rural water association.
“A change order has been signed and we should get started on that soon,” Burrell said.
Burrell also reported that state budget cuts had begun to “trickle down” to Coahoma County. Burrell noted that no tax increases have been added to the county in the past 15 years and that he hopes that can continue to be the case.
At the county sheriff’s department, five new patrol cars have been added to the fleet and the recent privatization of inmate meals has saved the county “a ton of money,” Burrell said. Additionally, 10 new tazers and 20 bulletproof vests have been added to the department.
In fire news, Burrell said the county has accepted bids for a new fire truck and is voted to take bids for a new fire training house. The Bobo Fire Department will be receiving eight new air packs for firemen.
Burrell also noted that a grant has been received for railroad crossing improvements at Jonestown and added that the county will receive funds on July 8 to rebuild three county bridges. A $1.25 million project that would connect Jonestown to Friars Point, a route that will eventually become Highway 316, is also in the works.
Jimmy Walker Sr. provided other transportation updates and said he was “not satisfied right now” with the degree of assistance or attention Coahoma County roadways have received from state and federal officials.
“Highway 161 needs to be overlaid and remarked,” Walker said. “From Coldwater to Senatobia they’re building the road into an interstate. I just feel like we’re not getting treated right.”
Burrell added that discussions have been held to make Highway 6 a “state scenic route” and said once that designation is in place, highway officials would be reluctant to make it a four-lane highway.
In the Chamber of Commerce report, Executive Director Ron Hudson said the Delta Jubilee figures reveal another successful festival. Hudson said funds from the gate were down but the carnival draw was higher than in 2009.
Hudson reported a Walk of Fame dedication for Ike Turner would be held later this year and added that the Youth Leadership Clarksdale project was in need of sponsorship.