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Hearing Set For Road Abandonment

Lacy Whitaker

By David Howell

WATER VALLEY – A 50-yard stretch of a one-lane county road that runs off of County Road 53 near the Water Valley Boat Landing could be abandoned after a family asked supervisors for relief with traffic accessing Corps property.
    Speaking at a recessed meeting Dec. 22, Lacy Whitaker told supervisors that Burchfield Drive is problematic for her family during the winter months with hunting  traffic accessing Corps property and also during the summer with ATVs and vehicles heading to the lake bottom.
    She explained Burchfield Drive, which is approximately a tenth of a mile long, runs off of County Road 53, passes through a short stretch of U.S. Corps property and then runs approximately 50 yards across her property before ending as it reenters Corps land.
    As part of her presentation Whitaker presented photos of damage to a vehicle parked on her private property that was struck by a vehicle while no one was home.
    “Really we have not had a whole lot of issues. We have fussed to people about slowing down because our children were out in the yards. There wasn’t really a big issue until our property started getting damaged,” she explained. She also cited another incident when she approached a hunter hunting on their property line to let him know there were children around.
    “His response was ‘if you don’t like it, I can go back up to that hayfield and shoot back up toward your house,’” Whitaker said.
    Whitaker also said she had received approval from the U.S. Corps of Engineers to put a gate up on the road where her property starts if the county agrees to abandon the road.
    The road is located in District 3 and Board President Tommy Vaughn asked District 3 Supervisor Lee McMinn for input before tentative approval was granted and a public hearing was set for January 22 at 9 a.m. at the Coffeeville Courthouse.
    Speaking at the meeting, McMinn said he had no problem closing the entire stretch of Burchfield Road, or just closing the end of the road where it crosses the family’s property.
    “It’s a one-lane, chip-seal road going in that is basically only serving those two houses there and the hayfield beyond that,” McMinn said, describing the road as a glorified driveway.
    But McMinn cautioned that if the entire road is closed, “there will not be any county maintenance on it again, ever.”
    Following the discussion, county officials and Whitaker agreed to petition to close only the end of the road where it enters the private property.
    Other business conducted at the recessed meeting included:
    • Voted unanimously to approve a request from the McCachren family to establish a private cemetery on their land, where Sam McCachren was buried on November 13.
    “The board has authority to do that, and cannot prohibit it,” Board Attorney John Crow advised before the request was approved. Crow also recommended attaching a copy of the property deed in the board minutes to establish the location for future reference.
    • Entered executive session to discuss the possible sale of the county-owned former Oakland school building on Hwy. 51.
    The possible sale of the building surfaced in September after Melvin Gary told supervisors he would be interested in the old school. Gary also told supervisors that asbestos was likely present in the building and could negatively impact the value of the building.
    Before discussing the matter behind closed doors, Crow said the asbestos professional hired by the county to evaluate the content of the hazardous material reported the repair could be made for $10,000 to $15,000.
    “It is not something that would kill the sale,” Crow added.

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