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Road repairs main topic of discussion for commissioners

By Jonathan Pleasant
It was a relatively short meeting this month for the Johnson County commission. With no comments or concerns from the audience and no guest speakers, the board primarily focused on its usual business beginning with the approval of this month’s budget amendments as well as several blanket bonds in the amount of $10,000 to cover various county deputies and correction officers. The commission also approved Alison L. Crowe, Amy O. Dowell, Barbara Hampton, and Debra W. Phillips as notaries before moving into their regular quarterly reports.
County Road Superintendent Tony Jennings addressed the commission on several important issues, beginning with an update on the recent flooding. Jennings noted that there are still numerous ditches, pipes, and culverts that need to be cleaned out at different locations around the county, indicating that it would take time for things to return to completely normal. Jennings went on to say that the department had been very busy since the bad weather, having started work as the rain was still falling.
Jennings informed the commission that damage had occurred on a private driveway as one of his crews was cleaning out a badly flooded section of county road that was in danger of washing out completely. Jennings went on to say that the owner was willing to replace the damaged culvert but was requesting that the county install it. To make the repairs Jennings sought the approval of the county commission considering that the location is actually a couple feet off the county right-of-way.
The superintendent also made a request that county attorney Bill Cockett research state law concerning cleaning out ditches and waterways in storm water events where the county’s roads are threatened. Jennings particularly made a point that in situations such as this recent storm there was a need to be able to take action and prevent further damages. Following a brief discussion the board fully approved both items.
Jennings also presented changes to this year’s road list. No new roads were added to the county with the exception of Hardin Snyder Road, which was actually taken off the list by accident without permission from all of the property owners. Most changes to the list involved corrections of mistakes made in the past, including several road lengths and connections. Some roads were also incorrectly located, such as Wilderness Trail Lane, which was inaccurately shown to connect with Locust Gap Road in Neva instead of the Smith Dugger Road in Butler. After detailing all of the changes made, Commissioner Rick Snyder made the motion to approve the amended list, which was seconded by Commissioner Mike Taylor and approved unanimously.
The last item that Superintendent Jennings brought before the board was a request to transfer one of his department’s radio frequencies over to emergency management. With new federal regulations requiring all departments to move to narrow band, the older frequencies have become outdated. While they can be modified to fit the narrow band requirements, this would leave the devices limited to a much smaller, localized area. As Emergency Management Director Jason Blevins noted, even in a shorter range the county’s emergency management could use the frequency as an extra line for use in and around Mountain City. With no real concerns about the transfer, a successful motion was made for approval.
For the rest of the story pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.