Desoto County News

Officials promote county needs on annual Washington trip

Photo: The DeSoto County delegation to the Nation’s Capital for the annual Washington, D.C. trip to meet with Senators and Congressional representatives. (Courtesy photo)

DeSoto County officials were in Washington, D.C. last week to meet with U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, along with staffers representing Congressmen Trent Kelly, Mike Ezell and Michael Guest. The DeSoto County Economic Development Council annually organizes the trip to more impactfully voice the county’s needs to federal officials.  

“Our meetings with the congressional delegation produced an opportunity to present first hand details of the growth challenges of DeSoto County and its municipalities,” said DeSoto County Economic Development Council President/CEO Jim Flanagan. “Our delegation prepared in advance, to speak with one voice on issues that impact us all.”

Highway widening and sewer issues were among the many projects the group spoke about during their meetings. Federal money for widening I-55 in addition to state money already promised was among the top issues. Horn Lake and Southaven are also facing sewer issues with the city of Memphis, an issue currently in the courts, was a major concern in those communities.  Mayors Darren Musselwhite of Southaven, Allen Latimer of Horn Lake and DeSoto County Regional Utility Association Executive Director Wayne Spell and Legal Counsel Mary Lee Brown spoke of the need for federal assistance on wastewater/sewer connectivity for Southaven and Horn Lake in order to become independent of the Memphis sewer system. Wastewater infrastructure needs were also spoken of by other officials, including Olive Branch Mayor Ken Adams and Chip Johnson of Hernando.  

In all, 33 DeSoto County officials were in Washington, D.C. during the week, a group that comprised all city Mayors, two aldermen from each community, three members of the county Board of Supervisors, and staffers from the DeSoto Council.  

“We had a very organized and well-communicated effort by our entire group,” said Musselwhite. 

Another highway widening project was top of mind for Adams, that being Highway 305, a north-south connector for the city to I-269. Adams also spoke about an upgrade to the tarmac/apron apron area of the Olive Branch Airport.  

County officials, Supervisors Michael Lee, Mark Gardner, and Board President Ray Denison spoke for funding for the proposed DeSoto County Agricultural Center, expansion of the Emergency Operations Center, and support of the National Guard Armory project.  

“The senators and the staffs of the congressmen agreed all projects were much needed and offered to work to see if any federal funding could be found to support these projects,” said Latimer. “Our Congressional delegation was able to see just how well the various governments in DeSoto County worked together to benefit our citizens in cities and the county areas.” 

Latimer added that by coming as a county delegation, everyone was able to better learn the needs of their neighboring communities.  

“I believe this trip created a spirit of community among the elected officials in our county,” Latimer said. “We became more aware of the needs of our sister cities and the needs of the county government. Let us pray our senators and representatives in Washington are able to gain the support to make these projects doable.”

It’s now hoped that sessions in Washington can help start or continue the process of getting federal support for these improvements and issues.  

“One of the most favorable comments received from each office was the fact that our united front is the most effective means of informing the congressional offices,” Flanagan said. “In turn, it creates open lines of communication between their offices and our local officials.

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