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To add to my column of last Friday about the building of a road to where existing roads already go, I have to share information from a phone call I received from a friend in this regard. This person may or may not know the real story, but the information is so illogical and ridiculous, as is usually the case when dealing with the state and it’s agencies, it has the ring of validity.
According to my information, the reason the state highway department is agreeable to relocating 82 families, tearing up 5.9 acres of wetlands, disturbing 1.3 acres of open waters, re-routing and damaging over a mile of natural streams and doing damage to 13.5 acres of floodplains to build a highway where there is already a highway is because of a promise our Governor made while luring Toyota to Mississippi.
As the story goes, the auto makers were interested in the distance their suppliers facilities would be from the main plant and how long it would take them to go to and from. It was suggested that they were wanting to not have any supplier in the region to be more than 20 minutes away from the main plant. That being their desire and the Governor’s desire being the building of the plant in Mississippi, apparently the promise was made.
This is kind of one of those “be careful what you wish for” situations, but in the form of “be careful what you promise and who you promise it to, because at some point, your feet will be held to the fire.” It is reported that Toyota expects that promise to be kept (and you can’t blame them for that), thus the very expensive, disruptive road to go where existing roads already go. It simply has to do with an over-exuberant Governor, shaving mere minutes off an already reasonable distance and time traveled, and the investment of more of our tax money into projects which may never deliver a definable benefit to those who are financing it. I would hate to have to be the one to try to explain and justify this promise to the families who will find themselves relocated from their family farms as a result of eminent domain, especially now that we hear the production of the Prius at the plant is to be delayed.
When you add up all that has been promised and that will be spent, the bailout of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler begins to sound a whole lot better. At least the Big Three will be expected to pay us back. On second thought, why don’t we see if any one or all of the big three are interested in moving their operations to Mississippi. Then we can relocate some more Mississippians, tear up some more of the beautiful landscape of our state and build some more roads with money we don’t have. And that’s a promise.
Sadly, I noticed the announcement of the closing of the Bauhaus/Lazy Boy Furniture Plant in Sherman at a cost of 139 jobs. I guess it would be selfish to question that we will offer millions of our tax money to keep a company from moving out of Tupelo, but do nothing to save these 139 jobs. But then, they weren’t in Tupelo, were they?
On another note, current rumor is that New Albany Aldermen Bill Tucker was so relieved that no one from the public attended Tuesday night’s board meeting that he expressed his relief at least three times during the course of proceedings.
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling so bad that Alderman Tucker missed the company of a crowd of interested citizens at the meeting so much that I think, as good citizens, we should answer this lonely call and attend all of the Board meetings for the rest of his term in office.
We want to be there for you, Bill.