80.1 F
Saturday, September 30, 2023
HomeLocal NewsLocal GovernmentGetting water to Halfway Branch

Getting water to Halfway Branch

Court moves to approve water transports and grant broadband right-of-way

By Jeremy D. Wells

Carter County Times

Folks along Halfway Branch don’t have any water. Those who do have water have to truck it in, along bad roads, to fill cisterns or tanks. A large contingent of residents along the road came to fiscal court on Monday night, to ask for assistance with that issue – and voice their displeasure with the state of their roads.  

The criticism of the roads came after Judge Executive Mike Malone suggested the county could reach out to the fire department and ask them for assistance with hauling in water. Residents expressed skepticism that the fire department would be receptive, noting that roads are so bad the school district has stopped running buses up the road. Instead they require parents to bring their children to the closest four-way stop, one parent said. While the road has been cold patched and chipped and sealed in the past, residents told the court that the work was incomplete, and most of the work that was completed washed away after one winter. 

Road supervisor Jason Carroll explained that one of the problems with keeping this particular road repaired is with drainage. Ditching is particularly difficult, he said, because crews can’t dig more than four inches before hitting solid rock. He said the county would need to rent or purchase a hammer attachment to break up that rock and make ditches any deeper.  

It’s an issue, one magistrate noted, that might also make it difficult to run water lines, but Carroll – who also serves on the board for the Rattlesnake Ridge Water District – explained that the real problem is water pressure.  

He said the water district currently has four-inch line running into the Carter City area. They won’t have enough water pressure to extend lines, however, until they can install six-inch line to increase pressure and flow. Until that happens, he said, any line extensions wouldn’t have enough water pressure to reach homes. It’s a problem the water district is aware of and working on, he said. 

Carroll said that right now there’s no water pressure for anyone “past Brushy Creek (Stone)” when they were spraying there.  

Though the county said they were limited in what they could offer, they were willing to assist with water. Magistrate Morris Shearer made a motion to look into options to provide water to the residents, which the court approved unanimously. Malone said the court would reach out to the Carter City Fire Department to request their assistance. If they were unable to assist, he said, they would look into fitting some of the county road department trucks with water tanks and delivering water in that way.  

Getting internet to the county 

The court also moved to approve a request that might help bring broadband internet out into the county sooner than later. A representative from Mountain Rural Telephone approached the county, Malone explained, asking to use the county road right-of-way to run buried fiber-optic cable into rural areas of the county. They already have permission to run line along state route right-of-ways. 

Malone said he has talked with customers in areas served by Mountain Rural and they are happy with the speed and service. He said the representative he had spoken with also addressed concerns about supply chain shortages, noting they had pre-purchased enough line to keep them busy running it for a while.  

Magistrate, and judge executive elect, Brandon Burton made the motion to approve that request for right-of-way use, seconded by Donnie Oppenheimer and approved unanimously by the court.  

Burton also made a motion to begin the process of looking at and applying for grant funding to help support broadband expansion in the county. That motion also passed unanimously.  

Library and other action 

In other action the court moved to table discussion on library funding, given that library director Matt Parsons was not present due to illness and that neither city had yet found money in their budget to provide the requested match for county money. Malone, who said he would support a plan for a single location located at either current branch, a new location, or splitting time between the two branches, said he didn’t think keeping two branches open full time was sustainable in the long term. 

“Staffing two libraries is not feasible,” Malone said.  

Despite that, Malone suggested approving a plan that would fund the hiring of staff at each location for three months. After that three month period, he said, he would like to see the library come back to the court with a plan for sustaining that funding.  

But magistrate Donnie Oppenheimer said he couldn’t see putting money into a library when so many people are asking for roads to be repaired.  

The court moved to table the issue until the next meeting, when library staff could be present to answer any questions.  

In other action they heard complaints about potholes on Opossum Hollow Road, accepted the clerk’s quarterly report, accepted the treasurer’s report, approved claims and transfers, and accepted various department reports.  

In road department news Carroll noted his crews have completed their final mowing of the season and have completed all paving they will do this year. They are, however, still laying gravel and filling potholes.  

He also reported on the return of vehicles loaned to counties impacted by flooding. He said they were returned in good condition – in some cases, he said, “cleaner than when we sent them.”  

However, he urged the court not to surplus the vehicle yet. He noted that the county still hasn’t received their snow removal attachments for new trucks. Until those are available, he said, he advised holding onto the old trucks.  

“We can’t be without snow removal,” Carroll said.  

In 911 news department head Joe Lambert noted they have new dispatching equipment finally being installed from ARPA fund purchases and are completing remodels of office space that will allow for the addition of a third dispatcher during high volume periods.  

In jail news jailer R.W. Boggs noted that MILO training for law enforcement officers had wrapped, with 100 percent participation by county and city law enforcement. He also noted a new system that allows staff to do their checks with a digital input, helping the office go “paperless” on that task. 

Malone, who participated in the MILO training, noted how impressed he was at the realism of the firearms training simulation.  

In ambulance news ambulance director Rick Loperfido told the court they have finally received their new oxygen tank filling system and that it was a “huge upgrade” from their old system. Tanks that used to take 24 hours to fill can now be filled in less than half an hour, he said. The system is also portable if it needed to be loaded on a truck and used in another location in the case of an emergency. Malone asked Loperfido about using the system to fill tanks for the fire departments or other first responders as well. Loperfido said it was a possibility, as long as the tanks were certified as safe and they would fit the filling dock. But, he said, it was important the tanks be certified to keep from damaging the system with an exploding tank.  

The court also moved to solicit bids for the demolition of the old jail, with all magistrates except Donnie Oppenheimer voting yes to advertise for bids. Oppenheimer told his colleagues that, as with the library, he couldn’t “bring himself to spend money” on the demolition of a building when so many roads still need fixed.  

Malone, however, said it was a liability and that the county could utilize the space for additional parking.  

“It’s going to fall down if we don’t tear it down,” Malone said. 

Following a brief executive session, where they discussed employee issues and pending litigation, the court moved to terminate road department employee Rick Waugh. No reason for termination was noted, but the court moved to approve the termination with Brandon Burton the lone “no” vote on the termination.  

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com 



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

%d bloggers like this: