CHARLESTON -- Air medical service helicopters will soon have a lighted landing pad to use in Mississippi County.
During their regular meeting Thursday, Mississippi County commissioners approved paying $700 toward the cost of installing the lights as requested by Danny Harris, director of the Mississippi County Rescue Squad.
The county has had a helicopter landing pad at Ironbanks and 5th Street in Charleston since 2000, according to Harris, on land donated by the city.
"It's getting used quite often," Harris said. "It was built by Dewey Heppe. He paid for everything to have it built."
Currently emergency vehicles are arranged in a circle around the pad with their emergency lights to facilitate night landings, Harris said.
He estimated the cost for the lights and installation will be between $1,200 and $1,400. The Rescue Squad will pay the electric bill for the lights.
Harris said he is also working on getting a solar-powered beacon installed on a grain elevator that is located within 100 yards of the landing pad for the benefit of pilots from out of the area who are unfamiliar with the landing pad and surrounding structures.
"There's a water tower on the south end but it's got a light on it," Commissioner Martin Lucas noted.
In other business Thursday:
* Commissioner Homer Oliver said the lowering of a culvert on County Road 301 was delayed when county workers had to move to Thompson Bend to repair a 3-foot deep trench-shaped washout across the road there.
He said he expects the the crew to return to County Road 301 and finish the job there early next week after repairs on Thompson Bend are finalized.
In related news, Mark Winkler, coordinator for the State Emergency Management Agency's Area E, and Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives recently toured the county to determine the possible expense to repair damage from June flooding.
"This is the application phase," Oliver said.
The estimated total cost to repair damage to Thompson Bend from June flooding is about $14,000.
"That's an initial guess," Oliver said.
FEMA representatives are slated to e-mail information to County Clerk Junior DeLay soon, according to Oliver.
* The county's blacktop program is clear to begin, Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg said.
After adding in an overlay on Davis Road in addition to the overlays originally bid for Janie Lane, Margaret Drive and County Road 409 and asking for thicker overlays in places heavy trucks turn and stop on a regular basis, the asphalt project contracted by the county with Apex Asphalt will cost about $85,000, according to Blumenberg.
While some of the overlays are in subdivisions, "all of these are county roads," he said.
Blumenberg said a county road and bridge worker will also be trained on how to lay cold mix blacktop by doing overlays on the Port Authority Road to learn the technique.
"Roads with less traffic need to go back to cold mix," he said.
* County crews will begin operating at least two herbicide spraying rigs alongside county roads, Blumenberg said.
Funding will be from the Johnson grass fund.