By William Browning
TILLATOBA – If you found yourself driving County Road 161 on the afternoon of August 6, the kudzu lapping the roadsides was old, and the gravel beneath your tires new. And the cabin you eventually met – sitting nigh in the middle of the road – was begun by Fletcher Fly in May, 2006.
“Hell, I’m 66 years old,” Fletcher said recently. Standing beside the cabin in the road, talking about the situation, Fletcher worked himself into a rant. “I just wanted to have me a cabin down here on my own land. And these folks are fighting me over it.”
On March 20, Yalobusha County Board of Supervisors Attorney John Crow sent Fly a letter.
“The board is requesting at this time that the building be removed from the right-of-way within 15 days,” the letter read. “Please understand that the structure should be removed away from the road a sufficient distance so that heavy machinery can be used to maintain the road.”
Fly, whose doggedness is apparently matched by his sense of autonomy, doesn’t understand that.
“As far as this road goes,” he offered, still walking around the cabin, “I’ve told the supervisors I can take care of the road myself.”
The problem with that is, a July 1, 1998 state law required all supervisors to adopt an official map designating and defining all public roads in each of Mississippi’s 82 counties. Many of these roads had been maintained for decades by the county, however counties did not actually own them.
In conjunction with that 1998 law, a public hearing was held, allowing citizens to voice opinions on certain roads in the county. Fly did not attend and seven-tenths of County Road 161 was taken in under the county’s umbrella. It is within that stretch that the cabin sits.
Fly owns 160.2 acres in the area – deer hunting country. The land, Fly said, has been in his family “over 60 years.” County Road 161 crosses through the property and Fly, for some reason, constructed the cypress and cedar cabin on top of the road. This is an inconvenience, to say the least, for the “folks” Fly claims are “fighting” him – the Walker and LaGrasse families, along with the Yalobusha County Board of Supervisors.
“I’m being harassed by the Walkers and the LaGrasses,” he said. (The Walkers and LaGrasse families own land at the end of County Road 161. The road, according Crow, is the only way to get to their properties.) “Those families are wanting to control my property so they can hunt it, and they are just using the supervisors as backup.”
The “fight” found its way into the Board of Supervisors’ lap last week, when Benny Walker asked the supervisors, “When does this stop?”
Walker, in his second summer appearance before the board, told supervisors that Fletcher Fly has not only ignored the March 20 letter – he has continued to build the cabin.
“Let’s get this over with,” Walker told the board.
Walker and David LaGrasse, who also attended the meeting, told supervisors that Fletcher Fly had harassed them for years.
Fly did not attend that August 6 meeting.
“I didn’t go to that board meeting because I knew I would lose my temper and say something to somebody,” Fly said.
His brother William Fly though, was present. And when Benny Walker told the board that County Road 161 is owned by Yalobusha County (“The county built a bridge on it a few years ago,” noted Walker.), William Fly cut straight to his disagreement.
“Naw, it is not,” he said.
In 2003, Fletcher Fly said he put down metal posts along his property’s lines. Someone, according to Fly, removed them.
Then, last September, according to Fly, someone “shot up” his cabin. Fly contacted the Yalobusha County Sheriff’s Department.
“They sent some deputy down here who said his name was James Bond,” Fly said while pointing at bullet holes. “I figured they would have had something by now, but I ain’t heard back from them.”
The cabin and County Road 161 sit in Beat 4, where George Suggs is supervisor. During the August 6 board meeting, Suggs made two comments.
“Can you get around the cabin now?” he asked.
Walker responded by saying that in the past, Fly had constructed gates and fences across the road. Walker believes the cabin is simply another way Fly is trying to block access.
“I’ll take care of it,” Suggs told the board in regards to the problem.
That afternoon, fresh gravel was laid on County Road 161.
William Fly believes the gravel was Suggs’ way of trying to pacify the situation.
“The county hasn’t been maintaining those roads out there,” Fly, who lives on County 471, said.
Meanwhile, Fletcher Fly, who lives in Coffeeville, said that a lawsuit may be coming out of his corner.
“It’s unreal that somebody would want to do somebody else like this,” he said. “It’s just unreal. The junk they putting me through is unreal.
“I guess I’m going to file suit against the county. ‘Headache’ aint the word for what the county and the Walkers and LaGrasses have put me through.”