County commission discusses road priority list

Published 3:00 am Thursday, November 30, 2017

After unveiling a new 24-month plan last month to provide $1.2 million in funding to resurface local roads, commissioners are asking the county engineer to ensure the road priority list does not change.

Engineer Russell Oliver presented the commission with a new road priority list Monday at the commission meeting, but commissioner Russell Johnson explained changing the priority list at this time would go against what he and Commissioner Chad Copeland had told residents when explaining the “plight” that the road department was in.

“I don’t have the heart to tell people we switched and moved road number one down to road number six on the list,” Johnson said. “I think the first list I was shown made perfect sense. I have some angst over this new list.”

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Other commissioners agreed that Johnson’s district, District 6, has some of the worst roads in the county and Commissioner Charlie Harris, District 5, encouraged Johnson and Oliver to sit down and revise the list.

Johnson said he didn’t think that was necessary if the county decided to go with the previously existing priority list. He explained that he and Copeland had been using the list as a tool to speak with residents about the situation of the road department and to show residents where their road is on the list of priorities.

“We don’t want them to look and say we finally got a little money to put towards roads and then we went and changed what roads we prioritize,” Johnson said.

Copeland said the list needs to remain consistent for now and the commission will need to talk about how they want to change the prioritizing of roads in the future.

“The biggest sticking point is the traffic count needs to be a bigger piece than it is today, I think,” Copeland said.

The commission ultimately decided to move ahead with the list from the previous year.

Copeland also asked the commission to begin thinking about ways to standardize requests from the road department on the use of emergency funds.

Oliver requested the commission pay back the lodging tax fund for the $11,000 spent to fix County Road 4430, which collapsed last month near Tennille.

“We’ve done this same process three or four times and we’ve granted the request and now on this fourth time we’re thinking about not doing it,” Copeland said. “We need to come up with standards so our engineer can know what to expect and it isn’t based on how we’re feeling that day.”

The commission decided to table the request, which Oliver said would simply mean the fund won’t be reimbursed until a later time if necessary.

In other business, the commission:

  • Approved a contract extension of one year with Haynes Ambulance for ambulatory services.
  • Approved the purchase of a joint app for emergency responders to be split three ways with the county’s share being $3,200.
  • Approved a $1,000 training for a deputy coroner.
  • Approved the annual list of bank accounts.

The Pike County Commission will meet again on Monday, December 11 upstairs at the Pike County Health Department. The work session will begin at 5:15 p.m. and the business meeting will follow at 6 p.m.