County declares failing bridge an emergency

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Pike County Commission declared an emergency situation regarding a closed bridge on County Road 2201 near Goshen so the road department can fix it as soon as possible.

John Bergschneider, assistant county engineer, told the commission Monday that officials with the Federal Highway Association (FHA) will be coming today to assess the bridge and will decide whether to fund the replacement.

“We’re trying to make this as fast and efficient as possible,” Bergschneider said.

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In order to bypass the need to come back before the commission to make further progress, Bergschneider suggested that the county declare the bridge an emergency, allow for the road department to bid the project as soon as funding is in place and to call an emergency meeting when bids are returned. The commission passed all three unanimously.

The bridge failed July 11, prompting officials to close the road for danger of the bridge completely collapsing. Goshen mayor Darren Jordan said the closing of the bridge will result in a detour of at least 8 miles for school bus drivers picking up children in the area that attend school in Goshen.

The commission also unanimously declared September as Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month in association with the Laura Crandall Brown Foundation and their “A State of Teal” initiative.

“I want to tell women that if you think something’s wrong, insist that your doctor look at you,” said Tina Wilhelms, a board member of the foundation. “I went to the doctor and he couldn’t find anything. I went back five months later and told him ‘Find something. Something’s wrong.’ He found two cancers. A few more months and I wouldn’t be here today.”

EMA Director Jeanna Barnes updated the commission on Smart911. “As of today, we have 320 people signed up,” Barnes said.

Commissioners asked Barnes to work with Banks, Brundidge and Goshen specifically to set up dates she can be on hand to help people in each community sign up to receive the alerts.

“We need to jump on Brundidge, Banks and Goshen pretty quickly,” said Robin Sullivan, commission chairman. “If a siren goes down, this is all they have.”

“We really need the 300 to turn into 3,000 into 10,000 into 20,000 very quickly,” said Chad Copeland, District 4.

The commission approved two hires during the meeting, one for a customer service representative in the Revenue Commissioner’s Office and one for a part-time administrative assistant in the commission office.

The commission voted unanimously for Courtney Brown to start work as soon as possible in the commission office, but were split 4-2 on the hiring of April Hamm in the revenue commissioner’s office.

Charlie Harris, District 5, and Homer Wright, District 1, cast the dissenting votes.

“I just had some concerns about the hire,” Harris said afterward. Harris did not discuss those concerns in detail.

“For one thing, they didn’t have a representative there to answer questions,” Wright said. “They were here during the work session but left before the meeting.”

The commission also donated $800 to the Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center for its backpack project.

The Pike County Commission will meet again on August 14, 2017 upstairs at the Pike County Health Department.

In addition to their regular work session at 5:15 p.m. and commission meeting at 6 p.m., the commission will also start budget hearings for the upcoming fiscal year at 3 p.m.