By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – In an unusual agreement a landowner in District 4 agreed to partner with the county to share the cost to replace a box culvert on County Road 216 north of Tillatoba. Speaking at last Monday’s recessed Board of Supervisor meeting, Patrice O’Brien explained the culvert allows primary access to a 36-acre field of sweet potatoes that will be harvested in October.
O”Brien also said her farm would pay for the labor and provide fill dirt for the failed culvert if District 4 Supervisor Timothy Booker provides the culvert and other materials needed for the culvert on the county right-of-way, which is also an erosion control structure that also keeps the county road from washing away.
She also said there is an estimated 720,000 pounds of sweet potatoes in the field and an alternate road that accesses the field is smaller, making it difficult for the big trucks to get in and out of the field.
“He has difficulty getting those sweet potatoes out of the field, he loses money and I lose money, yet the county is still going to expect me to pay my land taxes on time,” O’Brien noted. “I cannot imagine that Yalobusha County supervisors would want in anyway to handicap a farmer and a landowner,” she added.
Board President Cayce Washington was first to address her concerns, explaining that he had examined the failed culvert, as had County Engineer Karl Grubb and Booker.
“We are familiar with it, when you started calling I went out there because I wanted to see if I could assist Timothy with anything,” Washington explained. “At the end of the day, this is his district. It is his duty to see if he can help or not. I know he has seen another access road (to the field), I know there is a question if that access road can be used because of the location. Timothy has been under the gun with the money he has, he has been trying to allocate and appropriate money to different parts of the county,” Washington explained.
“I am willing to buy the pipe, but the situation is that it is an ongoing problem that just didn’t occur,” Booker explained. “My whole district has had a lot of work needed, I have been called on to do things that have never been done,” Booker continued. “I can furnish the pipe, but the whole project is going to be a partnership because I have to try to manage funds for other places,” Booker added.
“Are you willing to furnish the materials, whatever additional materials might be required?” O’Brien asked, noting that additional erosion control materials may be needed for the replacement.
“I want to do the right thing and furnish the materials,” Booker agreed.
Next details of the agreement were finalized including the determination that the culvert is on county right-of-way following a question from Board Attorney John Crow.
“Yes, Karl looked at it,” Booker answered, referring to the engineers assessment of the property.
“Then it is our responsibility,” District 5 Supervisor Gaylon Gray noted. “That’s a great deal.”