Jackson County is holding a town hall meeting Tuesday night at the Vancleave Shelter and Community Center on Ballpark Road, primarily to listen to residents, identify issues of the community and give updates.
One update is that the much-awaited Vancleave bypass is on hold. The state is buying the last of the rights-of-way and is in the process of moving utilities. But the project — once set to begin in late 2018 or early 2019 — has no money slated for construction.
Kelly Castleberry, district engineer with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, said the bypass, which would swing west of Mississippi 57 to give the two-lane highway much needed relief from congestion, is no longer programmed to receive money.
He said it will need a funding mechanism — whether it’s bonds, a tax, more growth to support road funding or “whatever the Legislature can do as far as appropriations.”
Castleberry said all of MDOT is in a holding pattern right now, maintaining existing roads instead of building new ones.
County Supervisor Randy Bosarge, who represents Vancleave south of Jim Ramsay Road, is organizing the event, and Supervisor Barry Cumbest, who represents areas north and east, will also be there.
The public meeting will be at 6 p.m. and held in conjunction with the Vancleave Merchants Association. Bosarge said it was a way to feature the 40-member merchants association and show off the county’s new 6,200-square-foot shelter and center that holds 350 people and now can be rented for community events at $250 per day.
The county has lined up Sheriff Mike Ezell and Jackson County Utility Authority Director Tommy Fairfield to field questions. They will offer answers in a town-hall format.
Bosarge said he will give details about the bypass road project.
“We’re trying to cover all the bases, any issues we thought people might have,” he said.
“Mainly we’ll listen,” Bosarge said. “There’s no agenda. I want to be open to the public, to hear whatever is on their minds.”
Ezell said he sees it as a way to stay in touch with Vancleave.
“These things are good for input,” he said. “People can say, ‘Hey sheriff, you need to look at this.’”