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Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - Thursday, February 28, 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company

Pct. 1 road woes draw comments
Polk County Enterprise - February 2008
BY VALERIE REDDELL, Editor

LIVINGSTON – Traveling to and from homes on Hillbilly Heaven is nothing like a trip to the promised land and driving into Resort Country is no picnic, according to property owners who spoke during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting. Mary Cook of Resort Country and Donna Brooks of Wild Country both addressed their concerns about road conditions in their respective subdivisions not just posing an inconvenience, but making it diffi cult for emergency personnel or school buses to reach their homes.

Cook told commissioners that just before a scheduled meeting of the property owners’ association in Resort Country work crews arrived with heavy equipment and black tar “We thought, ‘Oh, good, we’ve reached our goal.’ But roads are worse now than before,” Cook said. The roadway is now so crooked, “if you stand on one end and look down the road you get seasick,” Cook said. She’s even been stopped by passersby in the subdivision and asked if the property owners fi xed the road themselves since it’s in such poor shape.

“We’ve asked Mr. Willis what it cost to make those repairs and he said $14,000. Is that fi scal responsibility? Is that good road maintenance?” Donna Brooks, who lives on Hillbilly Heaven in Wild Country, said the guys with the truck and the shovel had shown up recently in her neighborhood as well. For residents of Wild Country, the biggest concern is the dam that crosses a private lake in their subdivision, Brooks said.

“I live on one side of the dam and my father lives on the other side,” Brooks said. “Now if I need to get over there to him I have to drive all the way around. If it was you, you would have it fi xed,” she said. Tuesday’s agenda included discussion on possible repairs to Hillbilly Heaven Road and the dam and commissioners weighed the possibility of changing current county policy to make the repairs needed to reopen the road.

Pct. 1 Commissioner Bob Willis told the court that he “had been under the assumption that the county road stopped on either side of the dam” and that the part of the road that crosses the dam belonged to the property owners association. Willis said that recent study revealed that when the commissioners court approved the list of roads for the county road system and those lists were mailed out with tax notices the actual footage of Hillbilly Heaven road included the dam. “The total footage was adopted so what we have is a county road across the top of a dam,” Willis said. “We certainly don’t want to lose our road so we want to repair the dam to keep the road intact.” Willis said he had discussed the road situation with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and after they reviewed it for about a week, they reportedly told him they thought the county could make the repairs.

Willis said he had also consulted District Attorney Lee Hon and that the county would need to enter into a contract with the property owners association and have the project designed by an engineer approved by TCEQ. “I want the court to give me permission to start the ball rolling and meet with an engineer and visit with TCEQ and work out a partnership with the Wild Country POA to repair the dam and reopen the road,” Willis said. Pct. 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet voiced his concerns about future liability issues that would be raised if the county made these repairs to private property.

County Judge John Thompson added that his concern was not over the legality of making the repairs, but whether the county should make a policy change. “We’re not in the business of maintaining lakes or ponds,” Thompson said. “We can give ingress and egress via a culvert. If we do this, we totally change from ingress and egress to maintaining lakes. “I am going to have a hard time looking Debbie Harlow in Indian Springs or the folks in Big Thicket Lake Estates in the eye. Is this a policy that we want to change?”

Thompson said. Hon also clarified that the issue of using public money on private property would have decided by the commissioner’s court after determining whether the public would receive some benefit in return for making the repairs. Willis responded that commissioners will have to look at each case individually. “A huge phone cable is tied to this thing. (If the dam fails) they’re going to lose phone service. It’s a bad situation for all the people back in there.” “In this case, it’s very warranted that we do that,” Willis said.

“I’ll come up with the money out of my budget to partner with them. I don’t think we need to turn our back on it and let things go.” After Willis made a motion to go forward with meeting with an engineer estimating the cost of the project, it was seconded by Pct. 3 Commissioner Buddy Purvis. “I’m in the same situation,” Purvis said.

During discussion on the motion, Thompson asked why this subject was just now being brought up since an inspection report and other information has been available for over a year. “Any particular reason why we are just now doing this?” Thompson asked. “I didn’t know it was a county road until a few weeks ago,” Willis said. The motion was approved with the stipulation that the engineering study and cost estimate will be brought back to commissioners for further consideration.


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