By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – A property owner on County Road 35 near Enid Lake pleaded for help from supervisors to fix an erosion problem fueled by road drainage problems.
“My yard is going into Interstate 55, one rain at a time,” Venita Pretti said at Monday’s Board of Supervisor meeting in Coffeeville as she showed videos of the water running across her yard. Pretti explained her property is located on the east side of the road, also known as Enid Dam Road, before it crosses the interstate. She added that the drainage problems date back for at least two decades, starting with the improper installation of a 100-foot culvert and lack on maintenance on road ditches to properly channel the flow.
Pretti also explained that she reached out to District 4 Supervisor Timothy Booker, the county supervisor for the district, nine months ago with no success.
“We don’t know what a county mower looks like over on that road, there are only about 50 of us that live in the little area. We do our best,” Pretti continued, adding that she has hauled gravel on her property and taken other measures to stem the water flow.
“If I am hearing what you are saying, the water run-off is affecting your property because there is not a ditch on the county right-of-way,” Board President Cayce Washington said as supervisors assessed the situation before District 4 Supervisor Timothy Booker weighed in.
Booker explained that the water association that serves the area advised him that he could not use a road grader to fix the ditch because of water lines.
“He said you could dig some, but you can’t use the grader. I might could go in there with a back hoe,” Booker explained.
“I would think in this situation, we have a county engineer who could come in and look at it with Timothy,” Washington advised.
“This happened nine months ago,” Pretti countered about her earlier request for help.
“Mr. Booker came out there nine months ago and something was supposed to be done. I called the Department of Natural Resources and Soil Conservation and had them come out there about two months ago,” Pretti countered.
She said the input from officials at the agencies include hauling dirt into her yard.
“But that still won’t fix it,” she added.
“I called 811 (number to call to get underground wires and pipes marked) myself. Everyone has already been out there and said there is no lines, go ahead on,” Pretti explained, refuting Booker’s claim that water lines would restrict work on the road ditch.
The ditch doesn’t have to be in the exact spot… it won’t be effective in that spot. Pull it toward the road some,” Pretti recommended.
“I will get with Karl (County Engineer Karl Grubb) and look at it and see what he says,” Booker said.
District 5 Supervisor Gaylon Gray recommended installing a culvert in the driveway and fixing the shoulders on the road.
“They need more than that, the shoulders are gone. They are gone,” Pretti countered.
“That is why the water is running down the edge of the road, the road bank is higher than the road,” Gray said about the water running down the hill before crossing her property.
“I encourage Timothy to reach out to our county engineer. He (Booker) has got graders and blades and under the advisement of the engineer – who is very versed in water fall and runoff and those type of things – can come in there and try to address that,” Washington said. “That would be the best response to this. I hear what you are saying that you talked to Mr. Booker nine months ago. It is his district, it is his district to manage as he sees fit. You have come and made a public concern for the entire world to see, which is what you need to do because we work for you. Tim works for you and we all work for our constituency,” Washington said.
“I will get Karl to look at this,” Booker agreed about consulting with the county engineer to determine how to fix the drainage issue.
Adding Insult To Injury
“My feelings are hurt,” an emotional Pretti continued, explaining that the U.S. Corps of Engineers (USCOE) cut limbs on County Road 35 three weeks earlier in response to a complaint from a tourist in a motor home about low hanging limbs scratching the vehicle. Pretti noted that County Road 35 is currently used for primary access to the lake because of a road closure for a bridge repair just east of the I-55 Enid Lake exit.
“Because one million-dollar motor home complained because it got touched by a limb – they were cutting limbs quick, fast and in a hurry after Memorial Day weekend. That hurts my feelings because we live there and can’t get anything done, but a tourist cries,” Pretti said. “
Y’all please help me, I am begging you to help me.”
“I will give you my word in front of this public group that if Timothy is in a position where he can’t help you because of equipment, I will bring my guys and my equipment over there and help you with that,” Washington promised.
He also advised Booker to communicate with Pretti if problems pop up on the project.
“If I haven’t heard anything in a month, I will be back,” Pretti said.
Little Public Scrutiny
With over half of the third year already gone in a four-year term, the current Board of Supervisors have faced very little public scrutiny from problems with roads and bridges in the county.
The only recent exchange stemmed from another problem in District 4 back in April, when a property owner complained about County Road 237.
The property owner, Calvin Schaefer, said the road, located north of Hwy. 330 and east of I-55, was impassable and members of Pine Creek Lodge were unable to access their lodge at the end of the county road.
“We pay our taxes every February, we have been paying since 1969 and we aren’t getting any progress on the road,” Schaefer told supervisors.
At the April meeting, Booker agreed to work on the road, and explained his crew had been very busy after heavy rains. Booker also said his road grader hit a water line on the road, complicating the ditch work needed to help fix the problem.