For the fourth time in a dozen years, Leflore County will have to spend a chunk of money doing extensive repairs to County Road 512.

On Monday, the Board of Supervisors agreed to fix the numerous bad spots on a 4-mile stretch of the road, formerly known as Damgard Road, at an estimated cost of $75,000. The money for the repairs will come out of the county’s emergency bridge fund.

District 5 Supervisor Robert Collins, in whose district the road is located, said County Road 512 is heavily traveled by gravel trucks and 18-wheelers, whose drivers think it’s a shortcut when traveling westward from Humphrey Highway, which the road intersects. Problem is, County Road 512 cannot hold up to those heavy loads, Collins said. “The base is not designed for big trucks.”

District 1 Supervisor Sam Abraham asked County Engineer Shane Correro what it would cost to completely redo the road’s base and overlay it. Correro’s estimate: $2 million.

Collins said such an expense would be a pipe dream for now.

“We ain’t got two million over there even to talk about that I know of,” he said.

The board also received a legislative update from Senate Tourism Committee Chairwoman Lydia Chassaniol, R-Winona.

Lydia Chassaniol

State Sen. Lydia Chassaniol updates the Leflore County Board of Supervisors Monday on two tourism-related bills passed by the Mississippi Legislature this year. The Winona Republican chairs the Senate Tourism Committee.

She told the supervisors that two pieces of legislation passed during the recently completed session should help Mississippi better market itself to visitors and filmmakers.

One bill, starting with the fiscal year beginning July 1, will set aside for tourism marketing 1 percent of the sales tax revenue collected from restaurants and hotels. The share will increase to 2 percent the following year, and 3 percent the year after that.

The allocation, Chassaniol said, should help the state compete with other states that advertise for tourists.

“It seems as if Mississippi has missed the boat in advertising the wonderful things we have here,” she said.

Chassaniol was also excited about the Legislature’s decision to reinstate a 25 percent cash rebate for filmmakers on the payroll they pay to cast and crew members who don’t live in the state. The bill was co-authored by Sen. David Jordan, D-Greenwood.

Lawmakers had allowed that incentive to lapse in 2017 after a legislative watchdog group found that the state’s return on investment in moviemaking was poor.  The Mississippi Film Office lobbied for the reinstatement, saying that when that incentive disappeared, so did most of the outside interest in making movies in the state.

The incentive is more restrictive than its earlier version in that only Mississippi-based filmmakers qualify for the non-resident payroll rebates. “It’s not as extensive as the one before, but it’s a start,” Chassaniol said.

She touted tourism as the state’s fourth largest economic driver.

“When people come here, they spend money. They spend good money,” she said.

In other business, the supervisors:

• Approved property tax abatements for two renovated buildings in Greenwood’s historical district downtown.

The tax break will relieve Cyndi Long, owner of the old City Hall building, and Chris Cascio, owner of the Cotton Row Club, from paying property taxes, except for public school taxes, on their buildings for three years. After that, a decreasing tax break could continue for up to three additional years as it is phased out.

Brantley Snipes, executive director of Main Street Greenwood, said Long had spent more than $200,000 on renovating the two-story building on Market Street, and Cascio, $75,000 on the private club located in Ramcat Alley.

She said the Greenwood City Council had previously approved the abatements on city taxes.

• Heard from Mississippi Department of Corrections officials that the state agency will foot most of the expense of installing electrical meters at Delta Correctional Facility so the cost of service can be split correctly between it and the adjacent county jail. The only expense the county will foot is $3,800 to install a meter for its use of an emergency generator the complex shares.

Ever since MDOC reopened its portion of the facility as a centralized Technical Violation Center in 2018, the county has been paying for all of the electricity at the complex. In exchange, MDOC has been providing meals for the county jail’s inmates.

When the separate meters are in place, each entity will pay for its own utility costs, and the county will start paying MDOC for the meal service.

• Approved a request to exempt the Onnie M. Elliott Community Service Center, located at 301 Broad St., from property taxes beginning this year. The Greenwood center provides after-school tutoring and health-education programming as well as a summer academy.

Abraham cast the lone dissenting vote, saying that granting the exemption could prompt other nonprofits to seek one.

The Onnie M. Elliott Center becomes only the fourth nonprofit to be given the exemption, according to Tax Assessor Leroy Ware. The others are the Greenwood Mentoring Center, the Fuller Center for Housing, and Delta Streets Academy.

Election commissioners

Leflore County Circuit Clerk Elmus Stockstill, right, briefs county supervisors on a grant the county’s Election Commission has received to update voting equipment. From left are Election Commissioners Deveda Dillon, Edward Course and Preston Ratliff.

• Agreed to facilitate the county Election Commission’s expenditure of up to $38,260 in state grant funds for upgrading voting equipment. So far, $29,234 in proposed expenditures have been approved by the Secretary of State’s Office, according to Deveda Dillon, the election commissioner for District 1. A little more than half of the approved total will be used to purchase 30 additional touchscreen voting machines of the same model the county currently uses. The grant requires the county to pay for the equipment and be reimbursed by the state.

• Approved footing half of the $4,800 cost of a permanent marker to commemorate the Vietnam War service of the 173rd Quartermaster Co. The 173rd, which was based in Greenwood, was the only Army Reserve unit activated during the war. The goal, advertising agency executive Allan Hammons told the board, is to have the marker ready for installation near the Veterans Memorial Monument on East Claiborne Avenue by August, when the 173rd is scheduled to hold a 50th anniversary celebration in Greenwood.

Contact Tim Kalich at 581-7243 or tkalich@gwcommonwealth.com.

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