Jefferson sign-ups disappoint

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 20, 2006

Citizens of Jefferson crowded the halls of Rangeline Baptist Church Thursday in hopes that their signature would put the expansion of water service to the area over the top.

For the project to move forward, 300 signatures were needed between Tuesday’s sign up at the Jefferson Community Center and Thursday’s meeting.

Because of the early hours (8 a.m. until noon) Tuesday’s crowd was not as large as the Marengo County Commission had anticipated, but Chairman Ken Tucker said he hoped Thursday’s afternoon hours would bring a bigger crowd.

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“We anticipated a lot more people at Rangeline than we had Tuesday at the Jefferson Community Center because a lot of people didn’t realize that is was only from 8 a.m. until noon instead of all day,” Tucker said. “We think a lot of the people who might have missed out the other day will come by. We hope there will be a good crowd.”

Commissioner Max Joiner, who represents the Myrtlewood area that has been instrumental in making the project possible, said a lot of preparation has gone into the project. Now, they just need people to step forward.

“We hope that people will turn out and make this program a reality,” Joiner said. “We have put up money, secured loans and worked closely with the city of Myrtlewood and Demopolis. Now, we just need the people to come out and support the project. This is the only project they asked for and we are trying to address their need.”

Bringing water to Jefferson has many benefits for an area that has lived with well water through the years. First, it brings clean, fresh drinking water. But the project will also help with fire protection. Additional lines will make it easier for departments to hook up to hydrants.

The benefits are obvious, Tucker said, now it was just a matter of getting enough people behind the project to make it work.

“We are very hopeful to get the 300 people we need because the project won’t work without it,” Tucker said. “We really don’t have much of a margin because there aren’t that many people out there. We really need everybody we can get out there to sign up. We can have a few people not sign up and still go ahead with the project, but there isn’t a very large margin.”

For years, Tucker said, the people of Jefferson appealed to the commission to help them secure clean water.

“This is something these people have needed and wanted for a very long time,” Tucker said. “We have worked very hard with them to get it and we can’t thank the city of Myrtlewood and Demopolis for all their help. We hope together we can pull this off and make it happen.”

The project is much more than just getting water to 300 more people in the county, Tucker said. It was also about taking one more step to ensure everyone in Marengo County has clean, safe water flowing into their homes.

“This will be such an effective project because if we can make it happen we will have 98 or 99 percent of the county covered with clean, fresh drinking water,” Tucker said. “There will be one or two little pockets in the coverage, but we will be close to covering the whole county.”

The commission, Tucker said, had also explored the possibility of not having enough signatures from the two sessions. In this case, Tucker said, they planned to offer them other opportunities.

“We will probably have some makeup sessions for those who might have been sick or out of town,” Tucker said. “After Thursday, we will regroup, take a hard look at the numbers, and see where we stand.”

There were several options, Tucker said, to make sure people had every opportunity to sign up.

“We will look at one or maybe two makeup dates and if that doesn’t work we will probably look at a phone campaign,” Tucker said. “If that doesn’t work, we might even go door to door. We have too much invested in this project and there is too great a need not to see it go ahead.”