Helping the Yazoo darter fish

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, December 22, 2015

If a timetable is worked out, Lafayette County will get assistance from the United States Fish & Wildlife Service in replacing some culverts that have deteriorated.

The Board of Supervisors heard from county engineer Larry Britt about the program after being approached by the USF&WS over a year ago. According to Britt, the agency has some funds they would like to use in protecting the habitat of the Yazoo darter, an endangered fish.

“The Yazoo darter has been determined to have historical ranges in Lafayette, Calhoun and Yalobusha counties,” Britt said. “Putting in new box culverts and bridges could possibly limit their ability to swim upstream as they migrate.”

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The box culverts used by the county have natural silt in the bottom of them and the fish are able to swim through them, according to Britt.

The agency recently contacted county officials about working on a project on County Road 428 near Dickie Creek, which has a culvert that is rusted out.

Road manager Jerry Haynie had targeted replacing the culvert since it is rotted.

Britt received a verbal proposal from the USF&WS “to cover the cost of providing structure and carrying out the construction using our own in-house crews.”

Britt said the USF&WS wants to put in an arch-type culvert, which has a natural bottom.

The proposal would require an in-kind match from the county, which would require hauling off the old culvert, assisting in the road closure and signage, supply back-fill material and planning drawings.

Britt and county attorney David O’Donnell have been in contact with USF&WS to let them know the county is interested in doing the projection if the board concurs, but “we have to have more than just a verbal email commitment,” Britt said.

The board favors going in with the USF&WS on the project, but are concerned about the time-frame.

Board president Jeff Busby said he was under the impression 2016 would be a trial year for the project. “Once they get funding for the first year, then they’ll come back and see about a four-year commitment and do this in other areas of the county,” Busby said.

Supervisor Mike Roberts said this would save the county “a ton of money,” but he is worried about tearing up a section of road and the project not be completed for six months. Haynie said his crew could usually do such a project in five or six hours.

“I don’t want to open a ditch up and it not be completed six months later,” Roberts said.

Under Britt’s recommendation, the supervisors approved the project subject to negotiations about when the project would be completed and exactly how much the county’s commitment would be.

“That way it gives them the opportunity to get a head and submit it for 2016 funding,” Britt said.

In other matters:

•The board accepted easements from Pumpkin and Anchor water associations and Westbrook Construction for placement of emergency sirens.

Lafayette County emergency management director David Shaw said this should be the final step to satisfy FEMA requirements to get the county siren project completed.

“We have 10 sirens we are going to place around the county,” Shaw said. “In addition to the 17 already in place.”

• Accepted a quote for a 2016 four-door truck for Central fire station in the amount of $28,192 from Gray Daniels. The vehicle had been approved by the board previously but after some checking, fire coordinator Jerry Johnson “felt a little uncomfortable” and checked with the state auditor and was informed the purchase would have to re-bid the project and the recommended bid is the lowest bid.

“We were told there was an up-charge to go from an extended cab to a four-door and it didn’t list on the new state contract list of equipment so we checked with the auditor to see if there was such a thing as an unlisted option and they said no,” Johnson said.

The difference in price for an extended cab and four-door truck is about $1,300 on the state contract list, according to Johnson.