Author: John Howell Sr., The Panolian
A speaker’s no-show for the Batesville Rotary Club’s Tuesday meeting allowed members to hear an impromptu “state of the city” address.
Batesville Mayor Jerry Autrey agreed at the last minute to fill in for the planned speaker.
“Politicians will always fill in,” Autrey quipped as he stepped to the podium.
“It’s a good thing when you can come with positive things about Batesville.”
The city is moving to update its wastewater treatment facilities, he said, citing a costly challenge municipal government faces. “Wastewater that’s going into the river from the cities has got to be cleaner than it ever has before,” Autrey said, referring to changes in Environmental Protection Agency requirements.
The city has just completed a grant-funded update of its ultraviolet treatment equipment.
“We’re starting on other stages where the lagoons will have to have extra equipment in them,” he said.
“That is just something else that the government has put on the cities,” he said. “They regulate but they don’t help you with funding.
“Thank goodness we have put aside funds in years past, and now we’re having to spend it on that,” the mayor continued.
“It may be that in the future that people like Como and Sardis and Pope and Courtland will have to pump their wastewater into Batesville and we’ll have to charge them to clean their wastewater,” he said, because of the high cost of wastewater treatment facilities that comply with EPA regulations.
The city is in its ninth year of repaving streets during warm weather, he said, in a program that started with streets in greatest need of repair.
“It’s getting smaller every year,” as the list of streets in need of repair has grown shorter, he said.
Renovation in Batesville’s Square will begin after this year’s May 16 and 17 Springfest, Autrey said.
A Downtown Enhancement Grant through the Mississippi Dept. of Transportation (MDOT) will replace some sidewalks, provide new landscaping and lighting, he said.
“We’ll finish up before we have our car show on the Square,” the mayor continued, referring to the Oct. 4 event.
He cited new historic markers for four locations in the city, and the acquisition of the Indian Mounds property on Highway 35 that will bring a Mounds Trail marker to the site.
“We will be the first city to have that because everybody worked together,” Autrey continued.
“I would like to thank Gary Kornegay for them moving so fast on the land transfer,” Autrey said. “They (the Panola Industrial Development Authority, previous owners of the Mounds site) got it done before these people arrived and I think that’s one of the things that helped us get this done on the Indian Mounds.”
“MDOT will build a pulloff and they’ll have markers out there,” he said.
In Batesville commercial activity:
- Sonic plans to relocate and expand its drive-in restaurant;
- Dodge Convenience Stores will build on Highway 6 between Power and Woodland Drives and is attempting to buy the lot where the existing Sonic is located, Autrey said;
- C Spire and Raceway will build a new store at Covenant Crossing;
- Guaranty Bank will build a new facility just east of Civic Center Drive;
- Comfort Suites Hotel will open soon; also at Covenant Crossing;
- Construction on Tri-Lakes’ new doctors building is underway;
- The connector road between House-Carlson Road and Pine Lodge Road should be completed next summer, according to the mayor. Completion of the connector road beside Zaxby’s Restaurant will also be completed when warm weather allows paving.
- The Eureka Street entrance to the Square will be widened and a park constructed between the street and the Will Polk building, he said. Routing traffic through the Square in a “roundabout” is one of three possibilities under consideration, the mayor said.
“What about sewerage in Hunter’s Trace?” Carol Martin asked. The engineering has been completed and the first phase of construction will begin near the back (north side), adjacent to an existing sewer line, he said;
“I’ve been in the city at least 15 years, and I don’t have waste treatment,” said Kornegay. “That’s the reason I gave you the Indian Mounds,” he quipped.
“Gary’s right; when you annex, you’re supposed to do some stuff,” Autrey said.
Restaurants are reluctant to establish new locations. “They are scared to death about the economy,” he said.
The Factory Stores of Mississippi shopping center is under new ownership and plans to refurbish the center and add a restaurant, he said.