By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – A bridge replacement project on County Road 2, near Tillatoba, continues to move slowly as county officials wrangle with a final potential heir of the property required by the county.
“We are talking about a three percent interest (in the land),” Board Attorney John Crow explained to supervisors during a recessed meeting held Monday in Coffeeville.
Supervisors voted to take court action on June 1, after Crow reported there were still two tracts of land with potential outstanding heirs who need to sign off on property deeds to give the county legal access to the property.
Crow told supervisors the final landowner is the widow of a deceased child of J.B. Hartley who lives in Jackson. This potential heir has signed the necessary paperwork, but Crow reported he has not actually received a copy of her husband’s will – a necessary ingredient which would prove she was a legal heir of the property.
“She never sent me the will, I don’t know whether there is a will or not,” Crow told supervisors.
Monday’s update comes after extensive legal work in which Crow and attorney Daniel Martin obtained more than 30 signed land deeds from property owners allowing the work.
The problem is not the amount of land, which only includes portions of acreage adjacent to the road and bridge, but the number of heirs involved in land in question.
“There were eight or nine brothers and sisters in this family,” Board Attorney John Crow advised supervisors during a recessed meeting held Monday in Coffeeville.
In June Crow told supervisors that the legal process, called a quick take, could be completed in a matter of weeks, and will include an order from Circuit Court giving the county claim to the property. The county will be required to tender 85 percent of the appraised value of the land to the court, an amount that will only be a couple hundred dollars.
The bridge was closed in January after the Office of State Aid Road Inspection 2009 inspection report cited numerous safety deficiencies with the structure. Since January, the replacement project has been a regular topic at county meetings.