By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – A new resident of Yalobusha County hashed out concerns about County Road 57 during the “first Monday” supervisor meeting.
Frank Brooks was on the agenda and introduced his new neighbor, Allen Rogers, who moved to the Sylva Rena community in February with his wife, Martha.
Rogers cited concern for the upkeep on County Road 57 in Beat Three, telling supervisors that it is important for the road to be maintained; not only for the residents, but also for Sylva Rena Fire Department and Billy’s Creek Water Association.
“We are new people here in the community. We bought the house from the Brad Brooks’ estate in February and we are proud to call this home,” Rogers told county officials
“When we first drove up to the house site, the road was grown up on both sides… it was in very poor condition. Since then I have cut trees with a chain saw, got Frank’s (Brooks) men with a tractor to pull all the trees off the road and put them on his property,” Rogers explained.
Rogers’ said he continued to work on County Road 57, hiring Frank Brooks’ trackhoe, dozer, and tractors to clean off the road bank on the south side of County Road 57.
“We had a flood that night before I could get it sowed and strawed. On Sunday I hired two men to help me straw that bank. The following week the road department came by and graded the road. The ditch we had made, they filled it back up,” Rogers told supervisors.
“Some time later I was sitting out front there and Mr. Frank Hyde drove by. He stopped and introduced himself, and I did to. I said, you know it is a shame you have a nice volunteer fire department and it is on a gravel, muddy road,” Rogers said, referencing an earlier conversation.”
“Well, he (Hyde) said the reason that road could not be graveled was several years ago the Brooks farmed this and they had tractors coming down here and kept the road here tore up all the time, it couldn’t be graveled,” Rogers said.
“We got a (Toyota) Prius and after it rained we could not even get her car up and down the road there,” Rogers continued.
Rogers then recounted a later conversation that occurred at the county shop with District Three employee Willie McCachren.
Rogers said he initially stopped to request gravel on County Road 57.
Rogers said he also explained to McCachren that Frank Brooks did not muddy the road up following a three-inch rain after the road banks had been cleared.
“I hired him. We cleaned it off the best we could. This road is in better shape today than it has ever been. It is clean on both sides of the road. You couldn’t even see the volunteer fire department sign when you were riding down the highway,” Rogers continued.
“That was on Monday, on Friday we got some gravel and we are very appreciative for the gravel,” Rogers added, referring to his visit with McCachren.
Rogers then reiterated his concern, telling supervisors that the community of Water Valley and Sylva Rena and the fire department deserve a better road with blacktop or tar and chip.
“That is all I am asking. We are new in the community. We love it here. This is our community,” Rogers said.
Rogers’ criticism was addressed by District Three supervisor M.H. “Butch” Surrette, who initially questioned why Rogers had not come directly to see him.
“I know you don’t know me very well. I don’t know you very well. I think the other day out at Eddie Hyde’s shop is the first time you ever met me. The first time you ever have talked to me. You never have asked me for anything. You never have entered into a conversation about any of this stuff before you come to the board,” Surrette told Rogers.
“I could sense a little something the other day when I shook hands with you. That maybe you thought you were shaking hands with Jesse James. But you weren’t, this is old Butch, the same old guy that has been around for a long time. It bothers me that you have talked to someone else. You have talked to a lot of people, but you never have talked to me. You have talked to the road man, you have talked to the fire coordinator, you have talked to other people but you just never have talked to me,” Surrette continued.
“I would be glad to talk to you. I would have talked to you the other day, but I could tell it shocked you when you found out who I was. I hate that. I made my living for 24 years trying to help people around here. Particularly people who needed help. The Lord sent me here to do that. I am sorry that you feel that way about things. I would have been glad to talk with you. I would have been glad to sit down with you. My number is in the book. I will give it to you before you leave. I got a card out in the truck, I will get you a card. I would have been glad to talk to you before you came to this meeting. But I am sure you have heard a lot of things from a lot of people, I can tell that from the way you talk. But you just never have heard from me,” Surrette said.
“I am not here to criticize,” Rogers responded.
“I understand,” Surrette said.
“But the people that I have talked to have volunteered to stop by and visit with me,” Rogers said. “I just hope the board will see fit to give the volunteer fire department and the well department a better road.” he added, referring to the Billy’s Creek Water Association.
Following Rogers’ comments, Frank Brooks returned to the podium to address allegations that his family was responsible for past damage to County Road 57.
“The day I finished clearing the bank off for Mr. Rogers, Butch and his wife came by and I asked Butch about some gravel for that road. His comment was, ‘I don’t have any,’” Brooks explained.
“But you got some that afternoon,” Surrette countered.
“Only after Mr. Rogers met with William (McCachren). And for the second time the Brooks family was blamed for the situation,” Brooks said.
“Not by me, Frank Burl, you haven’t talked to me,” Surrette answered.
“I didn’t mention you,” Brooks said.
“You haven’t talked to me about that,” Surrette said.
“No,” Brooks agreed. “But Mr. Rogers talked to Frank Hyde and he talked to William (McCachren),” Brooks explained about allegations that his family was responsible for road damage.
“But I am not here to hash all this out. My comment is that it is time that Yalobusha County develop a culture of honesty and not a culture of corruption,” Brooks said.
“I came by two roads on the way here this morning that I built for individuals. Private roads. When I was inquired about building these roads, the people said I don’t need you to gravel the roads, I just need you to build them. The supervisor has already agreed to gravel the roads. Both of them are graveled. One of the individuals has since decided that he is not even going to build in Yalobusha County,” Brooks continued.
Brooks then revisited allegations that his family was blamed by two individuals because the road to the fire station was not in good condition.
“The Brooks family have always done everything in power to improve the quality of life in that community. I want it stated so in this meeting. I want everybody here to understand that the Brooks family is not going to accept responsibility for something we did not do,” Brooks continued.
“These people bought this house in good faith. They have made it their home. They are going to be good citizens in Yalobusha County. They should not have to suffer the abuse by people employed by Yalobusha County,” Brooks concluded.
“Frank, I haven’t said a word about the Brooks. I haven’t said a word to you. You haven’t said anything to me about it other than that one day you asked for me for some gravel up on that road.
“Did you tell me there was no gravel?” Brooks asked.
“I told you I didn’t think we had any but I got on the phone and we brought you a load that day,” Surrette said.
“No,” Brooks answered.
“Yes sir,” Surrette answered.
“It just no need in all this stuff. It is just hashing out stuff that don’t need to be hashed out,” Surrette said.
Martha Rogers also addressed the board as the discussion came to a close. She stressed the need for the fire department to have a paved road to keep the trucks from travelling through mud when it is wet and dusty when it is dry.
“Also around there (fire department grounds) could be groomed a little better. If we have to go to the storm shelter, you don’t have to be so afraid of wading through tall grass,” Martha Rogers told supervisors.
She also explained why they had not directly addressed their needs to Surrette.
“When we came here, having lived in other counties, normally your road people are who you talk to. You don’t go directly to the supervisor unless there is a problem. So you will have to excuse us for part of that, Butch, not knowing that we have to come directly to the supervisor to ask for those types of things. Maintenance, I thought, was kind of a second nature thing and that is why you have a road person,” Martha Rogers continued.
“You will just have to forgive us for that and I hope we haven’t all gotten off on the wrong foot,” she added.