By Kevin Edwards
BC Staff Writer
Roads continue to be an issue of concern for the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors and the main focus of this week’s meeting was the effect of excessive rainwater.
“We do understand that since we met two weeks ago, we’ve had rain perhaps every day since then almost, so we ask our citizens to please be patient,” Supervisor Larry King said. “If there’s a situation where (it’s) imposing danger for travel, we will make those things a priority.”
District 3 Supervisor Olanda Morton asked Assistant Road Manager Lee Chatman to attend to a couple of problems in his district caused by rain.
Morton said excess water has pooled on West Main Street.
“That water runs down there, and it just sits,” Morton said. “I need someone to go down there and take a look at that and see what can be done about that.
“That whole road was washed out. The water goes down there and sits and comes back down toward the city.”
Additionally, a section of Mixon Street has collapsed due to water.
“The water is bubbling up from under the road and it caused the road to cave in,” Morton said. “It’s like the road is just washing out.”
Lee said the department would attend to it and had successfully cleaned out several storm drains that may have caused water to back up and pool on roads in Mound Bayou.
Lee received authorization for limb and ditch clean up as well as pothole repair in Shaw, ditch cleanup in Beulah and road repair in Renova and Gunnison.
County Engineer Robert Eley lamented the wet conditions that have plagued the county.
“Weather hasn’t been very kind to us here lately,” Eley said. “We haven’t made much progress. I’m sitting here looking for something here I can report as far as progress is concerned.”
Eley and Josh McPherson talked with the board about several ongoing issues that exist on Cedar Road and Shaw-Skene Road.
McPherson said, “The majority of the major, major issues on that road have been addressed,” but that various symptoms still persist which is causing problems to roads all over the county.
He pointed to the intersection of Cedar and McKnight Road as one example.
“There’s no ditch in that area so the water just pools on the edge of the roadway,” McPherson said. “It causes, as you know, traffic goes through, further eroding.”
Supervisor Donny Whitten said it had been brought to his attention that a culvert near Cedar Road and Township might be collapsed or blocked which is forcing water to pool in farmland.
“There’s been so much land leveling and moving of dirt and changing the drainage on the field in an entirely different direction where it used to go naturally,” Whitten said.
“(Farmers) have done it to better manage the water when they irrigate but a lot of it now is dumping into roadside ditches that are incapable of handling that kind of flood. We’ve got to address it somewhere because it’s tearing up our roads countywide, just washing them out and flooding them in the winter.”
Whitten said the board needs to act and farmers must pay closer attention to their land’s drainage systems so that it doesn’t damage the roads.
“We’re going to have to adopt some kind of ordinance and make sure we have a deflector on those pipes on the outside where it drains out on the field so it won’t erode the road and wash the gravel and cut a trench across the road,” said Whitten.
“Some other things will have to be done too. We have some farmers who farm the ditch and overlap and plow whatever into the road ditch and fill the road ditches up with dirt.
“Most farmers try to do what’s right, but we have some that are just negligent when it comes to that. I’ll just say it like it is. I really appeal to them to stay out of the ditches with your farm equipment and help us keep from filling them up with dirt.”
Whitten also implored Chatman and the road department to take better care in grading the roads.
“We have a serious, serious problem throughout this county with poor maintenance of our road ditches and when the roads are graded, there’s berms or levees if you will, left on the shoulders that hold the water in the road,” Whitten said. “Roads are supposed to be graded in a manner where they’re coned and all that stuff on the shoulder is pulled back to the middle and scattered so the water can drain off the road into the ditch.”
King asked Chatman to take these matters into account with Road Manager James Pritchett.
“If the road department can give more attention to this and grade operators, it will help save the roads,” said King.