By Christopher Young,
Hinds County District 1 Supervisor Robert Graham and District 2 Supervisor David Archie held a press conference on Carolwood Drive in northeast Jackson July 7 to address the 2-3 vote by the full board July 5 against spending $2 million of American Rescue Plan funding to address the erosion along White Oak Creek.
Graham opened the press conference stating, “For twenty years the City of Jackson and Hinds County have been trying to obtain funds to repair White Oak Creek here in northeast Jackson.” He indicated that the county has received over $45 million for infrastructure repair, erosion, drainage issues and sewer problems.
“These northeast Jackson citizens were promised $4 million to make this repair, but at our last Board of Supervisors meeting Supervisor Credell Calhoun reversed his vote leaving these citizens without any means to repair this problem,” Graham said.
“He decided that he would spend the money on repairing a vacant building as opposed to helping the citizens here in northeast Jackson.”
Jackson City Councilman Ashby Foote (Ward 1), who was recently voted in as council president, indicated that this is an important project for quality of life and for property values here in the City of Jackson. He reported that White Oak Creek has become more unstable over the past twenty years and that flash floods have caused disruption to the citizens here whose houses back up to White Oak Creek.
“I have worked on this issue for the past seven years with limited success, but this year, I want to thank the state legislature for putting two million dollars in the bond bill for White Oak Creek and specifically Representative Shanda Yates who led the cause,” Foote said.
Foote indicated that $4 million is estimated to be needed, and that without the additional $2 million from the county, it will end up being half-baked.
JoJo Adams, a resident of Carolwood Drive, began by thanking the people who have helped get to this point. “Representative Yates is fantastic.” He also thanked Foote and Graham.
“I’m not a politician, but we need help. The estimate I have seen indicates that $4 million is needed and all I can say to the supervisors who initially voted against this project, respectfully, please reconsider your vote, Adams said. “We really need the help.”
Adams reports a loss of up to 12 feet of land due to erosion. He offered to show his yard, and then shared photos from his cell phone when asked by reporters.
The Mississippi Link asked, “As far as the estimate, who prepared the estimate that everybody is looking at, and when was it provided?” Adams shared that he believes it was about a year ago, and believes it was from the City of Jackson, and then Graham interjected that Waggoner Engineering is involved also and that it is probably double that now.
Archie said he wanted to get straight to the point and not beat around the bush.
“The residents of northeast Jackson need our help. We made a commitment to the State of Mississippi and the state made a commitment to the Hinds County Board of Supervisors in order to get this project done. Credell Calhoun who is the chairperson of the board [at the moment, not the president, but the chairperson] along with – and I’m gonna speak these words – two dummies that don’t understand much of anything, voted against this measure,” Archie said. He added that the people that live in northeast Jackson perhaps pay the highest rate of taxes in the State of Mississippi.
“The deal was made, and it was a handshake. Credell Calhoun appears to have backed out of the handshake. I told you a year ago that Credell Calhoun wants to get his hands on all of Hinds County money,” said Archie.
He went on to indicate that Hinds County just received $22.5 million in their account, and he is ready to give $2 million of that money to complete the project.
Calhoun, who was not at this press conference, but was reached later by telephone provided the following statement: “They received $2 million from the State. The State does not require a match. We have water problems and other problems that we need to focus on. We can apply for federal dollars for erosion at any time. It’s open to be applied for continuously. These American Rescue Plan dollars are one-time dollars and that makes a difference. We don’t have to match it and so we did the South Jackson water project. We will do whatever we can. Grants and other funding are always available, and not just for White Oak Creek. There are plenty of other areas around the county that have the same problems, and those other areas don’t have the support from the State right now.”