Sumter, Pickens working together on road

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 25, 2005

In the area of road repairs teamwork is the name of the game for Sumter and Pickens County. The two counties are in the early stages of working together to get heavy funding to aid in repairs to Sumter and Pickens County Road 85. By joining together the counties can get the road classified as an on system route and make the road eligible for funding.

Sumter County Engineer Anthony M. Crear explained the advantages of a team effort to the Sumter County Commission Monday afternoon.

“If we join with them we have the possibility if getting that road classified as an on system road to allow us to apply for federal aid funds on that road and make improvements,” Crear said. “If we can do that they will help us make improvements to that road with 20 cents on the dollar as opposed to now where if we wanted to make improvements to the road we would have to pay the whole dollar, which we don’t have.”

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Crear said Pickens County has been very receptive and would likely vote in favor of working with Sumter County in their Tuesday meeting.

Crear said there was a very simple reason they needed to work together.

“The reason we need to do this together is because requirements to get a road as an on system road it has to go from one on system route to another,” Crear said. “If we apply by ourselves our route would end at the county line which would not be going to another on system route.”

The commission agreed with Crear and voted to work with Pickens County to get funding for repairs.

Road repairs were not the only item in need of help the commission addressed. Commission Chairman Isaac Bonner said the Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commissions Nutrition Program in Gainesville had been struggling and he would like to see it back on its feet. Bonner said the city had worked diligently to get the program going again and wished to ask for help.

“The city of Gainsville has been working with the seniors and they have been recieveiong donations from different people and the senior citizens have been coming out at about 25 or 30 a day to keep that program going,” Bonner said. “I want permission from the board to formally ask Alabama Tombigbee to consider reopening that program.”

Bonner said participation in the program has been on a steady decline, which was a shame because of what a positive program it was.

“Years ago when we first started doing nutrition sites we were actually delivering 30 percent of the meals and serving 70 percent of them on site,” Bonner said. “Now it is just the opposite. Besides coming out and eating these people really need that socialization and fellowship. The people in Gainesville are trying to keep it open and we want to ask Alabama Tombigbee to help keep that site open.”

At the end of the meeting the commission also voted to honor a Sumter County political pioneer. The commission voted to change the name of County Road 35 (Old Salem Road) to Claude Jackson Road. Jackson had been one of the first African American Commissioners to ever serve in Sumter County and the commission felt it was time to honor him.