Boulders falling off cliffs, residents can't reach homes on collapsing roads
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 11:31 pm
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Feb. 24, 2010) — Most of the county’s complaints from citizens have focused on road conditions in recent weeks, but at Monday’s meeting of the Pulaski County Commission, Presiding Commissioner Don McCulloch told his colleagues that he’s received multiple calls from a local attorney, Wayne Gifford, about the county sidewalks.
“Doesn’t he understand that we can’t do anything if we wanted to on the sidewalk because of the weather?” McCulloch asked, noting that a new security light has been installed to improve lighting at night between the current courthouse and the old courthouse museum.
“I think he thinks the sidewalk is a bit uneven. From looking at his boots it looks like he’s scuffed them a time or two,” McCulloch said. “I have to admit I don’t know where the problem is, but if it’s a hazard, we need to fix it.”
An outside trip by the commissioners to check conditions found a sidewalk slab that was about three-quarters of an inch above the next sidewalk slab and potentially could cause someone to trip.
McCulloch, who as presiding commissioner is responsible for courthouse maintenance, changed his opinion after reviewing the sidewalk slab.
“It needs fixed and we will fix it, but I don’t think this is the type of weather to do it. We’ll have it done by spring,” McCulloch said.
While repairing a single sidewalk slab that’s been heaved out of alignment may be relatively easy, Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham said he had to call road crews out during the evening to remove large boulders in the middle of Cave Road, which runs between Highway Y north of St. Robert and Highway O south of Dixon.
Problems will get worse before they get better, Farnham warned.
“With all our hills and cliffs we’ll have a lot more slide-offs because of no vegetation on the hills,” Farnham said. “A lot of folks don’t seem to understand when you tell them you can’t bring your dump trucks down the road because if you do, you’ll tear it up even worse.”
Farnham said he’s also been having problems with dump truck delivery vehicles that travel on roads when they shouldn’t be doing so due to road conditions.
Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink concurred that many residents don’t understand why the county can’t bring its gravel trucks out to dump gravel on the roads, but also said some of the dump truck operators are making matters worse.
“I had this problem with some dump trucks and I went to where they were loading and I said, ‘This is what is happening and this is what will happen,’” Zweerink said.
Some of the county’s roads are quite isolated, and Walt Summers, who lives on Sparrow Lane in the Buckhorn area, said his road has gotten so bad that many people can no longer travel on it to reach his home. That will soon become a problem because his wife is having an upcoming birthday party and vehicles can’t get through, including some people who are coming from out-of-state.
“Right now, on Saturday we needed a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get down there,” Summers said. “We can barely make it down there right now; if you stop, you will sink in.”
Summers said he understands that getting a dump truck into a dead-end road is a problem, but said he’s willing to let county road crews use a turn-around on his private property if it helps them bring gravel to him and his neighbors for road work.
“If we could get some gravel in there, your trucks could drive right in through, circle around and come out,” Summers said.
Commissioners said they’d like to help, but noted that people who build homes in isolated areas of the county take risks when they do so.
“He took a hell of a gamble when he built where he did, but it’s a real pretty area out there,” McCulloch said
In other road business:
• Robert Turner came to the commissioners requesting information on vacating a dedicated road, Charity Lane, that is also known as “Judy Smith Lane” since it predates the county’s 911 road naming system, but was never actually developed.
“I’m as nervous as I can be; this is like going to the dentist and the doctor on the same appointment,” Turner said.
Commissioners informed him that if the other neighbors on the road agree that shouldn’t be a problem, but advised him that he’ll need legal advice.
• Lana Kennedy came to the commissioners to report her progress in dealing with a neighbor who insisted on keeping an incorrect address on his house, despite being informed by 911 personnel that the address properly belongs to the home in which Kennedy and her husband live. Kennedy’s husband has had serious medical issues and problems have happened because medical personnel and delivery drivers carrying medical supplies sometimes go to the wrong house because her neighbor refused to take down the incorrect address.
“For those of you who don’t know, this lady was having trouble with a person next door who would not change his address,” McCulloch said. “The neighbor finally came to his senses.”
Kennedy said she’s been working with Rep. David Day, R-Dixon, and Lois Snyder, a community activist in the Big Piney area who has helped numerous residents present their concerns to local government officials, to try to get an ordinance in place that would allow government bodies to require people to post their addresses on their homes, or at least not post other people’s addresses, since that confuses emergency responders.
Kennedy said the problem is serious and will only get worse, noting that several other elected officials, including members of the Dixon Fire District Board, also have wrong addresses on their homes.
“We had two deputies driving up and down the road trying to find the house,” Kennedy said. “With the emergency being a serious medical problem, this is not good.”