If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
WATER VALLEY – A request by Yalobusha County Board of Supervisors President Cayce Washington for the county to assist the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) with maintenance at Cossar State Park found little momentum during a recessed meeting on August 30.
Washington told his fellow supervisors that the idea originated after hearing discussion by state legislators during previous sessions about closing some of the state parks in Mississippi.
“I feel like our state park has a lot to offer, there is a lot of nice infrastructure in place. It would be sad to see such a valuable asset in the county with a closed gate,” he told his fellow supervisors. “I think we can help maintain roads and help identify some of the trees that need to be cut where people can get in and out of there,” Washington explained about improvements that allow larger campers to utilize the campsites. “Just basic maintenance, maybe take some inmate labor out there.”
The board president also explained that he and Yalobusha County Economic Development and Tourism Director Bob Tyler met with MDWFP Executive Director Dr. Sam Polles to discuss the issue.
“They were receptive to that, during the conversation they put together a memorandum of understanding to make it legal for us to go in and perform work on that property and I wanted to make sure y’all are okay with that,” Washington added.
Board Attorney Shannon Crow provided details of the agreement, explaining maintenance in the park would be the primary purpose.
“The only thing that causes a little concern is because we are on the beat system, who does it?” Crow questioned.
District Five Supervisor Gaylon Gray was the first to voice opposition to the proposal.
“Let me say this, as the beat with the largest amount of roads and who gets the same amount of road millage (as other beats), I am not going to be spending my taxpayers’ money up there on state property,” Gray said. “Why does a poor county like us have to pick up the slack for the State of Mississippi? They should be helping us.”
Gray also cited other county property that needed work including the annual joint effort from workers at all five beats to maintain the acreage around Ajinomoto in Oakland.
“I am not going to have roads in Scobey and Tillatoba with pot holes in them and folks getting on me when my guys are up there patching roads in the state park. But that is just me, y’all can do whatever y’all want to do. Local taxpayer money should be spent on local people’s roads, “ Gray stressed.
“I agree,” Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn added.
“It is not a bad idea, but that park is seven or eight miles from my beat line, I just can’t go up there,” Gray reiterated.
“You might have some folks who come down there if it was fixed up. It is not a bad idea, but I think we are all going to be beat up over this,” District Three Supervisor Kenny Harmon added.
“It is in your beat, Eddie, you want some more roads,” Gray then asked District Four Supervisor Eddie Harris.
“I spent a day up there patching, it was in bad shape,” Harris answered.
“My theory is if you go in there and do the work, they may close it anyway,” McMinn said.
“That is right, we are subject to their decision,” Gray agreed. “I have enough to do in my beat.”
“That is the biggest negative that I have seen, taking time away from our districts,” Washington said. “But I looked at it from the impact it could have. People aren’t spending a ton of money when they come here to camp, but it is exposing our county to them. I look at it from an economic development standpoint.”
“What is going to come of it if they do close it?” Harmon asked.
“The Corps of Engineers would get it back,” McMinn answered.
“They lease it from the Corps is my understanding,” Washington said.
“You have the Corps of Engineers and the State of Mississippi, yet they want Yalobusha County to foot the bill,” Gray noted.
“I approached them, guys. I shoulder all of the responsibility on this. They didn’t come to us. I was just trying to look at it from an economic development standpoint,” Washington countered. “I would not want this board to act on something that they are not comfortable with. I thought it would be a good approach, but if it is not we need to back away from it.”
“I didn’t think we would be doing any major work in there, I thought it would be minor stuff,” Harris said.
“We are taking over maintenance?” Gray asked.
“We are not taking over, we would be assisting,” Washington explained.
“So if we are assisting, well what are they going to do?” Gray asked.
“They are still going to run it,” Washington said.
“So if there is a pothole, they are going to want us to come patch it?” Gray asked.
“Maybe we take a load of something out there and then they do the work, or maybe inmate labor. I wasn’t envisioning us taking our chip sealing equipment out there,” Washington said about a major road paving operation.
“This is not an agreement that gives them any authority over the county,” Crow explained. “If there is a pot hole in the road, they can call us, but we can say no.”
“I got nothing against it, but don’t plan on me being in there,” Gray said.
“Maybe I misspoke, we are not taking over the maintenance of it. That was never the intent, it was to assist,” Washington stressed.
Harris said in previous years Beat Four has provided some assistance on pot holes in the roads in the park.
“I went up there one day and it was potholes like crazy,” Harris added. He also said the roads in the park are marked as county roads inside the gate. “So I took my crew up there one day and we fixed the roads inside the parks. I just thought it looked bad. Maybe two small trailer loads of coal mix and one day of three or four men working on it.”
“That is all well and good until you have somebody falling off in one of the potholes on one of your roads,” McMinn noted.
“My roads are terrible, I don’t have anything to cut limbs with. I already have 105 miles of roads (rights-of-way) that needs to be cut. What do you do? I would like to see some life come to the park. From an economic development standpoint, it may would create some people coming into the county and spending more money,” Harmon said.
“Let’s sleep on it,” District Two Supervisor Ken Rogers recommended about revisiting the issue at a future meeting.