Supervisors want fake bridge cover removed or road made private

Published 2:41 pm Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Supervisors want a fake covered bridge removed from a public road, or the road placed in a private status and removed from a county classification list naming it a public road so the county won’t be responsible if any accidents in connection with the bridge occurs.

Supervisors on Monday said that their fear was that the county would be liable for any accidents that happened involving the cover and that there was a question of whether or not emergency equipment can get under the cover to answer any emergency calls from homes beyond it.

The road in question, Don Burge Road, is paved and is on county records as a public road, although it dead-ends at several houses.

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Resident Don Burge constructed the cover over the road and now wants to run electricity to it so he can deck it with lights, according to county officials.

However, the power company reportedly won’t run electricity to the cover unless Burge gets approval from the county. Supervisors rejected any steps toward approval on Monday.

Efforts to contact Burge were unsuccessful.

Several other residents live beyond the cover, and supervisor and board president Anthony Hales said that Burge was told to take the cover down but so far has not done so. The cover is in Hales’ district.

In addition, he said he told Burge that the county is not taking any responsibility or liability associated with the structure.

Hales’ statement doesn’t change the legal fact that the county still owns the road and is responsible for any structures placed on or over it. The county has never given its approval for the cover, officials said.

Mike Mitchell, county road manager, told supervisors that the last time he had talked with Burge, Burge said he was going to purchase the road from the county and make it a private road.

On Monday, supervisor Hudson Holliday said the county should approach Burge in a respectful manner and offer a compromise, asking him to either remove the cover or poll his neighbors about turning the road into a private road.

“I am not going to go out there and force Mr. Burge to take it down, so I told Mr. Burge that we would just do away with that part of the road and take it off the public road list,” added Hales.

Board attorney Joe Montgomery said there were legal procedures the county has to follow to declare a road a road to be private and to remove it from the public domain, such as publishing a public notice and holding a public hearing. “It is not a simple process,” said Montgomery.

Officials said that it could be costly for residents to place it back into private ownership because if that is done, residents would have to reimburse the county for the costs the county has incurred in upgrading the road.

Holliday said that he did not see any problem with the cover if it did not interfere with emergency vehicles or pose a traffic hazard. “Covered bridges in some parts of the country are a tourist attraction,” he said.

“He just built the cover. He just did it. He didn’t ask anybody,” Hales said.

In another matter, following a discussion about county employee overtime, Holliday moved that any county employee who gets called out for special emergency duty on weekends and holidays be paid overtime.

The discussion at first covered only county road crews who get called out all the time to clear debris from roadways and clean up after accidents. However, supervisors said it would have to cover everyone to be fair.

The motion, following an extended discussion, failed for a lack of a second.

Currently, employees get overtime only after passing 40 hours.

In another matter, supervisors rejected a request by Carol McIntosh to split a piece of property called Cam’s Corner that she is developing. The board rejected it on recommendation from the planning commission.

Hales said that the request was being rejected because the original plans for the piece of land fell under the county subdivision regulations and that the proper paper work for the subdivision had not been filed with the county and nor had a fee been paid.

McIntosh maintained that she had followed the proper procedures.

In other matters, supervisors:

— Closed a road in the Nicholson Community, called First Street, that had been platted but never used at the request of attorney Byron Stockstill on behalf of his client.

— Approved increases and reduction in the real and personal property tax rolls, and a reimbursement of $609.95 to James Bryant for taxes paid in error.

— Okayed the workers compensation renewal proposal.

— Okayed the waste tire reimbursement.

— Approved a $250 donation to the South Miss. Livestock Show.

— Accepted MEMA reimbursement No. 75 for $459,113.44 for the Chimney Square construction project in Picayune.

— Okayed the 2010 payroll dates.

— Okayed the 2010 board meeting dates.

— Acknowledged receipt of the Pearl River Co. Hospital and Nursing Home budget for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2010.

— Went into an executive session to discuss personnel.

— Adjourned to Monday, Dec. 7, at 9 a.m.