At wrong end of dead end road, store owner seeks help

Sheila Blackmon
Meridian Star
Tuesday, April 3, 2001; Page 1A

CAUSEYVILLE -- A bridge project on Causeyville Road has caused revenue at a local store to drop so drastically that Lauderdale County supervisors agreed Monday to consider reimbursing the store owner's losses.

Causeyville General Store and Mill owner Dorothy Hagwood told the board Monday that an unpaved detour road - Pickard-Campbell Road - has potholes and was not designed for heavy use.

The road was supposed to handle traffic while a State Aid bridge reconstruction project continues on Causeyville Road.  But recent construction activity - already delayed by rain and right-of-way acquisition problems - has left Hagwood essentially at the wrong end of a dead end road.

She said distributor tricks which service her store, such as those owned by Budweiser and Pepsi, have threatened to stop delivering products to her story because the detour road is in such disrepair.  Even school buses must take an alternative route or else get bogged down in mud.

"This has hurt my business tremendously," Hagwood said.  "It has just about killed my business and we've been there since 1869."

Lauderdale County State Aid Engineer Terrell Temple attended the board meeting to answer questions about the project.

Introduced to the board by District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell, Hagwood asked Temple and the supervisors to place gravel in the muddy areas until the project could be completed.  She also asked them to re-open the road.  She said the road closures have put her store in a dead-end not accessible to customers and vendors.

Boswell said Hagwood's lost revenue should also be reimbursed.

"This isn't her fault.  It's ours.  We tore the bridge out and built a ramp to access the area," Boswell said.

"Then five weeks ago this Wednesday, we tore the ramp out... and we're not even close to opening that road up.  Her little business is just as important to her as yours is to you and mine is to me.  It's as important to her as Engineering Plus or Boswell Refrigeration is to us."

Temple said the old bridge had to be removed because its pilings were made of timber and were 35 years old.  He said widening the bridge and putting up guardrails to the project specifications required officials to have an additional 40 feet of right-of-way - which they had trouble getting because some of the private land was pine plantation tied up in trust.

Difficulty getting right-of-way coupled with a number of rainy days delayed construction, he said.

Board president Jimmie Smith asked him if gravel could be added.

"We've got it barricaded.  We're trying to keep people out of there so we can work," Temple said.

Hagwood asked if gravel could be put down and the road reopened if it rains this week and Temple said yes.

Board Attorney Rick Barry told Hagwood to write a letter to the board comparing her revenue in March 2001 to her revenue in March for the last couple of years and the board would consider repaying losses.

Hagwood said she estimated her revenue this year was three-fourths less than what her store brought in last year this time.  She said she has had to cut vendors and orders.  She said she cut ice cream from $100 to $150 down to $15 this week.  Her bread order was cut back 20 loaves.

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Last updated 10/27/01