Supervisors seek help with roads on island|[2/25/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 25, 2005

After asking a group of Kings Point landowners for a list of recommendations for improving operation of the Kings Point Ferry, members of the Warren County Board of Supervisors asked the group for its cooperation in reducing damage to island roads.

Supervisors made the request Thursday following an extended session with the landowner group during one of the board’s informal meetings.

The ferry under discussion is the only reliable access to the hunting and farming area across the Yazoo Diversion Canal and River from the rest of Warren County. It was effectively cut off from the rest of the county when the Yazoo Diversion Canal was opened in 1903. A court order entered in 1998 established minimum operating hours for the ferry, depending on the time of the year.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Ted Lamar, a Greenville attorney representing the landowners, said his clients were concerned about the ferry’s operation, communication of when the ferry would be out of service and when it would be taken out of service because of high water and when service is restored.

Referring to the 1998 court order, Lamar reminded the board the ferry is to operate 12 hours a day in February and March and 15 1/2 hours a day – 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. – from April 1 to the end of Daylight Saving Time in October. From October to January the times of operation are from 4:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. to accommodate the hunting season.

“The main problem to me, and most of these people will agree, is that ferry is totally incompetently operated,” said Raymond May, the owner and operator of farm land on Kings Point Island.

The people operating the ferry for Warren County, he said, do not seem to be interested in giving good service and go out of their way to make things unpleasant for those who use the ferry.

“In 102 years, you would think Warren County would have figured out how to have ramps that go from the top bank down to the river,” he said. “You go anywhere in the country and they have good ramps but you come to Warren County and the river goes down, generally you’re going to have a problem.”

The county awarded a contract to Tensas Machine and Manufacturing in May of 2004 for the construction of a boat and barge for $623,100.

But, said Lynn Wolfe of ABMB Engineers, the county’s engineering firm, Tensas is behind schedule and did not meet the original date in mid-February. It would probably be the middle of March before delivery.

David McDonald, president of the board and District 1 supervisor, said many of the problems with the ramps would be alleviated. Also, he said, many of the problems caused by drift getting caught on the ferry’s guide cable will be eliminated because the push boat will have the power to handle the ferry without one.

Another bone of contention from the landowners was how the county handled closing and reopening the ferry during winter flooding. The board decided to allow road manager Richard Winans to keep the ferry closed for a few days after Chickasaw Road was reopened, at about 41 feet on the Vicksburg gauge, to allow roads to dry out more.

The landowners contended the ferry should begin operation when the Mississippi dropped to the same level that caused the closing.

Lamar promised the board it would have a list of the landowners recommendations by its next informal meeting March 3.

“We have to have some cooperation from you,” McDonald said.

If the county were to reopen the ferry as soon as Chickasaw Road was passable, he said the county would want an agreement from landowners and others that they would not drive on roads that were still flooded.