Mississippi County mayors and officials discuss highways

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Manila hosted the quarterly Mississippi County Mayor's meeting at the Depot Center on Tuesday, Jan. 22, with guest speaker John Ed Regenold of Armorel, chair of the Arkansas Highway Commission.

Chairman of the Arkansas Highway Commission John Ed Regenold spoke at the Mississippi County Mayor's meeting held in Manila. Also pictured are: Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner, County Judge Randy Carney, and Mississippi County Economic Developer Cliff Chitwood.

Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner welcomed everyone. Among the guests were mayors from throughout the county, members of the Manila City Council, County officials, and members of the Manila Industry Commission. Wagner thanked the Manila B&PW Women for providing the home-cooked lunch.

Mayor Wagner introduced Mississippi County Judge Randy Carney expressing his appreciation for the job Judge Carney does working with the towns throughout the county.

Judge Carney spoke briefly introducing Cliff Chitwood, Mississippi County Economic Developer.

"Cliff works hard for all of Mississippi County," Judge Carney said.

Mayors attending were recognized by Judge Carney. They included Wayne Wagner, Manila; James Sanders, Blytheville; Bo McCollum, Etowah; Dickie Kennemore, Osceola; Jerry LaRue, Keiser; Larry Simms, Dyess; Sissie Winford-Ross, Joiner.

Mayor Wagner introduced Regenold who spoke about the highway projects underway.

Regenold said Arkansas has too many roads with too few people.

"We have more roads to manage than California, Tennessee, New York or Florida, with a bigger financial responsibility, because we don't have tolls," he said.

Regenold talked about the Highway 18 widening project saying all of the money needed to fund the project is available. He said the project providing a five-lane highway from Blytheville to Jonesboro is expensive. The estimated cost of turning two lanes into a five-lane highway in rural areas is about $3.5 million per mile. He said bridging natural reserve areas such as Big Lake is even more expensive. Work from Monette 139 to Manila should begin this year.

The Highway 18 project should be completed in 2016. Regenold said he will leave office in 2015 but the work should all be in line.

Funding for the project comes from two sources. One is the Garvey Bond Issue passed in 2012 statewide and with federal funds.

Regenold talked about the bond issue that passed and how it will benefit the state and towns.

"Everyone gets something from it," he said.

The cities of Mississippi County will receive over $11 million in turnback funds as a result of the revenue generated by the bond issue's sales tax.

Regenold talked about how far Arkansas has come in road improvements since the early 1950s.

Regenold answered questions and told the guests to write him a letter with any questions or suggestions and he would take it to the commission for review.

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