ADA upgrades coming for some county voting precincts

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,

With the Yazoo County primary election only weeks away, the Board of Supervisors approved for upgrades to be made to certain voting precincts across the county to meet new ADA requirements.

Election Commissioners Claude Collum and Lynn McAllister brought the issue before the Yazoo County Board of Supervisors during its meeting last week, explaining the need for the new upgrades.

"In District 1 you have a lot of private land with precincts on them, and you have a lot of gravel down so that a wheelchair cannot get across it," Collum said. "What we are looking at is to see if we can get some ramps to go in there."

"These are things that fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act," McAllister added. "These are things that should be in place already."

Supervisor Van Foster mentioned that he had spoken to someone about pouring asphalt in front of the West Bentonia voting precinct to help with handicapped parking, or having an asphalt ramp made that would meet the wooden ramp that already existed there.

"That's Hancock's property," Foster said. "But I would have to go through the audit department to make sure since we would be putting the material on private property."

Circuit Clerk Robert Coleman said that there would be an issue with placing materials on private properties.

"I think with it being a private property, the county couldn't do it," he said. "It would have to be something temporary that can be taken up when the elections are over."

During the meeting, Collum had passed out a few ideas of temporary metal ramps that could be placed during election seasons, and stored in another location afterwards.

Supervisor Jayne Dew said that she understood the need for the ramps.

"I had the same problem that we are talking about here," she said. "In Midway, we have got the same thing you are talking about.  There's gravel where they are rolling in, so in other words, we have got to have something that rolls a wheelchair very comfortably."

McAllister went on to explain their ideal purpose for the ramps and how they would better meet the ADA requirements.

"What we are trying to do is, these ramps are 10x36, if they will pull that van right up beside the ramp, they can drop that wheelchair right on that ramp," he said. "This is the reason that we need so many of them.  One of them won't do, you have got to have two of them so that the vehicle can get length-wise to put that wheelchair on it. If this works like we think it will, it's the cheapest way of getting it done."

"That's cheaper than paving it," Foster said.

"I don't see any problem with it," said Supervisor Willie Wright.

Collum and McAllister went on to explain other needed upgrades such as posting handicap signs and handicap accessible doors, as well as purchasing new laptops and desktop computers to help with training poll workers.

"And all of this is going to be reimbursed," Wright asked.

Collum, McAllister and Coleman each explained that funding was made available to the county in the amounts of $32,000 and $14,000, and that they only needed approval to get started on the upgrades.

"We will do this," said Supervisor Cobie Collins. "We will get with each of you when we go through our precincts, and we will work these things out for Americans with Disabilities."

In other news, the Board decided to have the fire trucks moved out of the Holly Bluff Volunteer Fire Department to make it more accessible to handicapped voters when the time comes.