Lee County bridge likely not as historical as thought

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djournal-lee-countyBy Robbie Ward

Daily journal

TUPELO – A former contractor and one-time member of the Lee County Board of Supervisors may save the county $15,000 and at least a four-month delay on replacing a county bridge.

Jack McKinney, the contractor who installed the steel-truss bridge over Boguegaba Creek on County Road 878 in southwest Lee County decades ago, vouched in an affidavit that the bridge isn’t as historical as staff at the state Department of Archives and History thought.

Supervisors learned in August that the state department had classified the bridge as eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places because of the bridge’s style and age, which was thought to be about 63 years old. If the finding held, the study and work involved could cost the county time and more than the original estimate of $400,000 for the project, Lee County engineer Carrson Neal has said.

For months, Lee County attorney Gary Carnathan has searched for records showing when the bridge was installed. Coming up short on documents, he found the man responsible for installing it.

In a notarized affidavit, McKinney reveals information that likely disqualifies the bridge from the historical listing.

“I purchased parts of the bridge from Worsham Brothers, Inc. in Corinth, MS around 1974…” he said in the affidavit. “The parts of the bridge had previously been used when I purchased it to install in Lee County.”

Jim Woodrick, division director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s historic preservation division, said staff who make final decisions on the eligibility of the bridge to the National Register of Historic Places haven’t reviewed the statements of McKinney but will likely rule the bridge as ineligible for listing.

“We haven’t concluded our review,” Woodrick said. “But generally, when an object is moved from its original location it loses its significance.”

Until the county bridge is ruled ineligible for the national registry, no bids or other action can take place on the project.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com