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Commission discusses maintenance of roads

County roads were the topic of discussion at Thursday night’s regular workshop of the Butler County Commission. Many residents attended the meeting to voice their concerns about the maintenance of county roads, particularly Vickery Road.

At last month’s workshop, Commissioner William L. Phillips said several residents of his district complained that a gate had been placed at the front end of Hughley Bridge Road, blocking access to Pigeon Creek. Phillips requested that the gate be taken down, giving access to the creek via the two sections of Hughley Bridge Road that are no longer connected by the bridge.

A representative of a hunting camp in that area explained that several members of the camp contacted the commission and the roads department requesting permission to place a gate at the road because there had been incidents of hunters who were not members of the camp hunting on the land, and there had been several instances of people mud-riding with four-by-fours in the area.

Gene Smith, a member of the hunting camp, also explained at the previous month’s workshop that the county engineer had given permission for the gate to be placed there and members of the camp were also told that the county no longer maintained the road.

Many residents expressed concern over the issue of starting to maintain the road again because of the expense of the maintanence , and that many roads, such as Vickery Road, are in desperate need of being paved. One lady explained that when the two schoolbuses that travel the route drive the road, the schoolchildren must close the windows because of the amount of dust that would fill the vehicle.

Phillips said several times throughout the meeting that he did not expect money to be spent on the road, but he did want residents to have access to the creek from that side, and that to put a gate up, the road must be closed or abandoned by the county.

Until that time, Phillips said, there should not be a gate up and that there is a lenghty legal process required to close the road.

"We have had numerous complaints of people shooting deer and turkey, and tearing up the gates we have on International Paper land. And as a resident of the county, I can't see spending any money on grading a dirt road that no one lives on. There is no nostalgia or recreational value whatsoever in that area," said Ronace Fails, another member of the camp. "

We came here and met with Mr. McCall, the county engineer, and Mr. Curtis last year. They said that they did not consider that road a county road anymore and Judge McFerrin said the same. They told us if we felt we needed to put up a gate, then to do so, but that we may need to take it down if we got complaints from the commission," he said. "

&uot;It is a public road,&uot; said Phillips. &uot;It has not been abandoned. If you leave that gate up for a period of a year, then it would be a dead road, and we don't want that road dead. We don't want to spend a lot of money of the road, we just want it open for access to the creek."

Further discussion of the issue will continue on Monday at the commission's regular monthly meeting.