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After more than a year of preparation and planning, the City of Laurel is ready to embark upon a project to provide erosion control to its two lagoons.

Officials said the $5.58 million project through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Program is expected to make some necessary improvements.

NRCS was derived from the 1935 legislature, Public Law 74-46, passed by Congress. The law recognized that "the wastage of soil and moisture resources on farm, grazing, and forest lands is a menace to the national welfare," and it directed the Secretary of Agriculture to establish the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) as a permanent agency in the USDA.

In 1994, Congress changed SCS’s name to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to better reflect the broadened scope of the agency’s concerns.

According to city documents, the City of Laurel requested funding from the National Resource Conservation Service to provide erosion control at the Smyly and Massey WWTP (Wastewater Treatment Plant) Lagoons under the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program.

The Laurel City Council resolution on this matter shows that in August 2020, the City of Laurel entered into an agreement with NRCS to construct necessary lagoon access road repairs and bank stabilization for a total project cost of $5,580,862.50.

Now, a year later, the Laurel City Council has granted authority to award construction on the 2021 NRCS Lagoon Project.

According to city documents, NRCS will provide reimbursement of 75 percent of the project construction cost and an additional 7.5 percent for technical assistance, which will be 82.5 percent of the total construction cost.

City officials said Neel-Schaffer has developed plans and specifications for the project known as the Smyly and Massey Stormwater Lagoons Access Road Repairs and Bank Stabilization Project.

The city accepted bids for the project on August 19, 2021 and received five bids.

According to city documents, the bids were received from:

 Continental Rail of Hattiesburg for $4,187,420;

 Cotton Creek Transport of Laurel for $5,148,290;

 Magoo, Inc. of Laurel for $5,151,925;

 Wilco, Inc. of Madison for $5,271,850; and

 The Lemone Company of Lafayette, LA for $5,520,820.

City officials said after review of the bids, Neel-Schaffer recommended the low bid submitted by Continental Rails, Inc. of Hattiesburg totaling a little over $4.187 million.

The Laurel City Council approved the recommendation and awarded the project to Continental Rails.

Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee said the work on the project is expected to begin soon.