|Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - August 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
County rejects request to open Pct. 4 road
Trinity Standard - August 2008
GROVETON – With road issues dominating their August meeting, Trinity County commissioners voted Monday, Aug. 11, not to open Duke Road in Precinct 4.
They also voted to close a portion of King Loop, also in Precinct 4, and received a request to move part of Dawson Lake Road in the Glendale area of Precinct 3.
The issue of opening Duke Road was first raised in July when Bobby Smith and Richard Tullos approached commissioners about opening the road to gain better access to their property.
The two recently purchased land in the area, located off FM 357, and now have access using a road owned by a timber company. They asked that the county open Duke Road leading to the McClain Cemetery.
During Monday’s hearing, opponents to the road opening argued that while there was an old road or lane there at one time, it was a private road and was never owned or maintained by the county.
Michael Suggs, who with his sister Kimberly owns property in the area, presented state highway maps obtained by the Texas achieves in Austin showing that the section of what is now called Duke Road that Smith and Tullos want to open was not on state maps dating back to 1936.
One map obtained from the Trinity County tax office that did show the road indicated it was an “unimproved road,” which Suggs said indicated it was not maintained by the county.
“I don’t doubt that at one time people used it to go to and from the McClain property, but it was never a county road,” he said.
Suggs said that if it were opened, it would cut through about 900 feet of his family’s land and said he did not see why such a road was needed when Smith and Tullos currently had access using the timber company’s road.
When questioned about the matter, County Attorney Joe Bell noted that the “license” to use the road granted by the timber company was considered a temporary measure.
“There is a difference between a license and an easement,” Bell said. “A license can be cancelled at any time by either party while an easement was more or less permanent.”
After listening to both sides in the matter, Pct. 4 Commissioner James Alford noted that no matter what commissioners did, the issue would probably end in a district court lawsuit.
“I don’t think we need to delay making a decision. No matter what we do, we’re going to upset someone so we need to act so they can move forward,” he said.
Alford then made a motion that the county not open the road and maintain the “status quo” in the area.
“I’m just not convinced that it was ever a county road to begin with,” Alford said.
The rest of the commissioners present agreed, and voted not to open the road.
It had been noted that if it had once been a county-maintained road, commissioners would have the right to “reopen” it. However, if it had not been a county road in the past, the county would have to acquire the right-of-way from the current landowners.
King Loop closure
In other road-related business, the commissioners received a petition from Oscar Bierman asking that a portion of King Loop in Precinct 4 be closed.
Bierman was seeking to close a section of the loop that crosses his property and has originally made his request to commissioners are their July meeting. At that time, commissioners asked that he consult with his neighboring landowners to see if there was an objection.
During Monday’s meeting, Bierman presented the petition and indicated that the landowners in the area would have no problem with the closure. He noted that the section of the loop in question was very seldom used and that the other landowners had other, more easily traveled routes to gain access to their property.
Commissioners approved the Bierman’s request and formally closed the section of King Loop that crosses his land. Because the use of the road’s right-of-way was granted to the county in the form of an easement, ownership of the right-of-way would be turned over to Bierman.
Glendale road request
During the meeting, commissioners also met with Amie King who was asking that a portion of Dawson Lake Road in Glendale be moved off of her property.
King told commissioners she recently purchased land in the Glendale community and wanted to fence in her property to start an agricultural operation.
However, the survey of the property indicated that Dawson Lake Road cuts into her land and she was asking that it be moved back to its designated right-of-way.
The county attorney noted that back in the early 1900s, a group of New York investors created the Glendale community and platted a system of streets and lots.
He said it appears that over the last century, the path taken by what is now called Dawson Lake Road has “drifted” off the original platted right-of-way onto private property.
“Of course there may have been a reason that the road drifted; we just don’t know,” Bell noted, adding that it might have been a situation where the land inside the original right-of-way would not support a road.
It was noted that in the case of unpaved roads, if mud holes or other obstructions developed, wagons and later cars would drive around the obstructions and actually case the roadway to shift to one side of the right-of-way. Over time, this drift could move the road completely away from its original path.
Because the matter was not on the agenda for action, commissioners could not say “yes” or “no” to King’s request but indicated it would be placed on the agenda again sometime in the future.
Library could close
During the meeting, County Judge Mark Evans noted that the Groveton Library would probably be closed this week until a librarian could be hired.
Evans noted that while the library belonged to the City of Groveton, the county had been providing space for it in the Rock Building located next door to the courthouse for many years.
In addition, the county also obtained assistance through a work program to obtain funds to hire a person to work in the library.
Evans told commissioners that the work program would no longer provide funds for the library program.
He said that unless the city provided funds to hire a librarian, the library would have to close.
Evans said he will be discussion the matter with city officials to try and work out the problem and would report back to commissioners at a later date.
During the meeting, commissioners also:
· Approved a grant request for $19,600 to the Deep East Texas Council of Government to fund the litter and illegal dumping clean-up effort operated by Keep Trinity County Beautiful (KTCB).
· Voted to leave the local fees unchanged on the annual vehicle registration program. The county currently charges a $10 road and bridge fee and a $1.50 child safety fee as part of the vehicle registration.
· Voted to increase the fiscal year 2009 allocation for the Burke Center to $11,919. Evans explained the center was asking for an additional $4,199 to help fund a proposed regional psychiatric emergency service program they plan to open by Dec. 1. Evans noted that the planned emergency center would be able to accept patients from area law enforcement agencies who are having a mental health crisis.
· Received requests from both the Woodlake-Josserand and Nogalus-Centralia water supply corporations for the county to sponsor $250,000 grant applications for water improvements. Because the county can only sponsor one of the applications, commissioners decided to invite representatives from both water companies to a special meeting on Monday, Aug. 18, and allow them to explain their plans and needs.
· Voted not to change the current fee structure for the service of court papers by the sheriff or constables. Those fees currently stand at $75 to $100.
· Approved a request from County Clerk Diane McCrory to name Make Willis as the central counting station judge for the Nov. 4 general election. Others selected for duty at the central vote counting station include Tabulation Supervisor Cora Collins, assistant tabulation supervisors Toni Heinrich and Shasta Bergman and County Station Manager Diane McCrory. In addition, commissioners authorized McCrory and Willis to hire four clerks to assist at the counting station during the election.
· Voted to renew the county’s health insurance policy with the Texas Association of Counties (TAC). Evans noted that while the policy’s premiums would increase by about $7,700 during the coming year, TAC has announced it would give the county a renewal credit of $10,194. The judge said this would mean the police would cost the county about $2,500 less during 2009.