City, county start hunt for $533k for Church Hill Road

Grant specialist Phyllis Benson talks to Supervisor Joe Chandler about paving Church Hill Road.
Staff Writer

Needed: $533,737. Donations welcome. For a good cause to benefit the entire community.

That's the gist of a problem faced by West Point and Clay County.

The two local governments want to repave West Church Hill Road which serves six existing industries with a seventh, Peco Foods, opening next year. Once Peco is fully operational, more than 800 people will work there at places with well-known names like Prestage Farms, Mossy Oak and Steel City Recycling.

The project from Highway 45 Alternate to west of Prestage Farms would cost an estimated $957.000, according to County Engineer Bob Calvert.

Clay County supervisors Thursday approved applying for a $150,000 Small Municipalities Grant from the Mississippi Development Authority.

The Appalachian Regional Commission also has suggested it might contribute $200,000 toward what would be considered an economic development project.

The county also might be able to tap into $73,274 in unallocated State Aid Road money.

If those two happen, the city and county still must come up with $533,737 -- $266,868 each -- for what government leaders agree is one of their joint priorities.

"This is all very preliminary, some numbers to get us started. If we don't start somewhere, we won't do anything.

And the city hasn't even put a pencil to anything other than to say it's probably needed," Chancery Court Clerk Amy Berry said.
"We'd like to do it, but we'd like to do a lot of things. I don't know that we've got the money. I haven't talked in detail to the board and really need to," Mayor Robbie Robinson said.

The county could come up with its share by syphoning money from road and bridge money allocated to District 3 Supervisor R.B. Davis and District 5 Supervisor Joe Chandler.

Them boys got the money. We're saying let's try to get it started," Supervisor Luke Lummus said.
Phyllis Benson, the grant coordinator for the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District said one thing would be contingent on the other. The county would have to try to get some kind of commitment from the ARC and show it plans to put up its own money as part of applying for the $150,000 grant.

"This is discretionary money the Legislature has allocated. You are going to have to politic for it, get your legislators on board and working for it," Benson told the supervisors.
City and county leaders said they may ask the ARC to increase its funding to $300,000 and go to the Mississippi Development Authority and Gov. Phil Bryant to seek additional money as part of the Peco Foods project.
Benson said some of the commitments need to be in place by the Aug. 31 grant application.

"You have to be able to show you can come up with the balance," Benson said of the total package.
"We'll just have to start and see what we can do," Berry noted.