Annexation work near end in south city|[12/04/07]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Seventeen years after the city annexed 21.5 square miles with the promise of police and fire protection, city water and sewer service and more fire hydrants in exchange for paying city taxes, some residents of south Vicksburg may be getting everything they were promised in another 60 days.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday approved final payment to the final contractor on the city’s nearly two decades of work to bring sewer service and fire hydrants to areas annexed by the city in 1990. First proposed in a 1982 annexation petition, the entire project is nearing its end — at least on paper.

“It’s the last contract,” said Public Works Director James “Bubba” Rainer. “We’ve had like seven different contracts over the course of the project,” but now, “everything is in place and ready to be put in place.” Rainer said that notices advising residents to tie in to the new system should be mailed within 60 days and residents would have about six months to hook up.

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Although the expanded system will add miles of sewer lines and lift stations, Rainer said the system should be trouble-free for at least 10 years.

The cost for the final round of projects is just less than $3.9 million said City Clerk Walter Osborne. In 1995, city officials estimated extending sewer service through the annexed areas would cost about $12 million and the city issued $7 million in bonds to complete that work. Rainer and Osborne said a total for the entire 17-year project was not available this morning.

The city won the right to annex the land after an eight-year court battle. Some services, like fire protection and garbage pickup, were extended to the new areas immediately. But 10 years after the annexation, many residents were still waiting for sewer service. South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman congratulated everyone who had a part in bringing the project to completion.

Beauman said in August that the length of the project was due to two factors. The first was problems with the original contractor, Bowie River Construction of Hattiesburg, and the second was unanticipated revisions and additional work due to broken or outdated water and sewer lines that were privately owned and operated in the annexation areas.

In August he said anyone experiencing problems with new services should notify the city immediately. The work is under warranty and the contractors, Hemphill Construction and Allen Hoshall Ltd. Architects and Engineers, are obligated to make any needed repairs.

The project also brings fire hydrants to the Warrenton Heights, Singing Hills and Redbone Road areas. Jesse Baker, a resident of the Warrenton Lakes neighborhood said he’s glad the project is nearly finished.

“It should have been done a long time ago,” said Baker, who lives on Kendra Drive. Still, “it looks like everything is pretty well done.”

Alvin Brown, who lives on Belva Drive, said he’s been satisfied with all the city’s utility services over the four years he’s lived in the neighborhood. He said the next thing he’d like to see the city do is add gas service in the area. Both have had city water and sewer service for years.

Annexation nearly tripled the size of the city, adding areas mostly along U.S. 61 to the north and south. Before 1990, the city was about 13 square miles.