Supervisors Hear from Concerned Citizen

At yesterday’s meeting of the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors, a concerned resident addressed the Board about a gate placed by another citizen of Pearl River County on Ridge Road. Boyd “Butch” Merrifield is a property owner living on Asa-McQueen Road. Merrifield informed the Board about a situation that has caused him grief recently. A Pearl River County resident, which Merrifield would not name due to privacy reasons, has a gate just past the intersection of Asa- McQueen and Ridge Road near the Hancock and Pearl River County lines near the Nicholson community. The federal government owns the land on Ridge Road. The gate has forced travelers traveling down Ridge Road to divert on Asa-McQueen Road and take Highway 607. Merrifield told the Board of the effect this has had on his road. He said “living there, I can tell you the traffic is constant because of the people having to divert onto Asa McQueen road to get to Highway 607.” Merrifield also stated that he has seen more litter on his road due to this.

Merrifield is concerned because this could be a hindrance to emergency personnel including fire departments, police departments and ambulance services. He was also concerned that things could escalate between strangers and the owner of the gate. Merrifield stated, “This is really not about me. This is about the citizens of Hancock and Pearl River County who are being deprived of the right to travel on an open public road.”

When Merrifield asked how this could happen, County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin explained that sometime in 1998, the state of Mississippi asked all counties to deliver a master list of all roads they believed to be open public roads. If a road was not put on that list, it could be considered abandoned even though there were no specific processes to make it so.

In 2006, the Supervisors of Pearl River County requested that the Pearl River County part of Ridge Road be added to the Federal Aid Road system.

Board Member Hudson Holliday doesn’t see how this could happen stating “I don’t see how you can shut off a road that somebody else has access to?” Holliday asked whether a road can lose public status if the county stops maintaining the road.

Board Attorney Joe Montgomery told Holliday that the answer is very complicated explaining that “It takes a lot of litigation and years of research. It’s a very complicated process to determine the status of a road.”

Board Member Malcolm Perry agreed with Holliday’s position, believing that a private citizen shouldn’t be able to close a road on government property. The Board agreed to do some more research on this subject before making a decision and committed to get back with Merrifield at a later date.

Also at yesterday’s meeting, Pearl River County resident Bobby Spiers asked the Board to create a historical marking in honor of a historical person.

The person that Spiers wishes to honor was named Richardson Perry, who fought and died at the Alamo. Historians indicate that Perry was born in Hancock County, which at that time encompassed what is now Pearl River County. At age 19, Perry took part in the defense of the Alamo as a member of Captain William R. Carey’s artillery company. Perry is one of eight Mississippians to die defending the Alamo.

Spiers wanted the Board to appoint a 3 to 5 member committee to oversee creating this historical marking. This committee would decide what exactly to put up in honor of Perry, what to put on the marking, and where to put it. It was believed that Perry would have lived somewhere between McNeill and Carriere based on historical research by Spiers. Spiers also said the group could raise money for the costs and volunteered to be an ad hoc member. The Board agreed to see what they can do to make this happen.

Also during the meeting, the Board discussed Saturday’s Pick Up Pearl River litter collection day scheduled for Saturday. The discussion was around the forecast of heavy rain for Saturday.

The Board agreed to make a decision late Friday or early Saturday morning. If a decision is made to postponed the litter pick up due to weather, the alternate date will be April 22nd. The Board will contact numerous media outlets including social media, WRJW, and local newspaper outlets as soon as possible to ensure the public is aware of a possible change of date should the weather warrant a cancellation and rescheduling.

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