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Removing right-of-ways and paying crews: Road discussions dominate fiscal court

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

 Carter County Fiscal Court started their regular meeting on Monday night by hearing requests from two different property owners who are seeking to have their roads removed from the county road system. 

Doug Collins addressed court, noting that he had documentation showing that his road should have been removed from the county road system years ago. He said he has privately maintained the road for years, but recently found it was still in the county road system when individuals came out to measure the road for E911 service. 

Collins, who said he came out to “run off” the perceived trespasser, found out his road was still showing as a county road on state and county maps at that time.

Judge Executive Mike Malone told Collins that the county has ran into numerous cases over the years where a road was supposed to be removed from the system, but the requisite documentation was never filed with Frankfort. In those cases, he said, the roads are still technically in the county system and the entire process – which takes at least two months, if there is no contesting the removal – must be repeated. 

Collins asked the court to begin the process of removing the road from the county system so that he can enforce his rights as a property owner with a private road. 

Another resident, a Mr. French, also came out to ask council to begin removing Pottery Road from the county road system. He said he didn’t know the road, which he was told was a private drive when he bought his home, was in the county system until he began to put up a gate to stop traffic that was tearing up his backyard and had someone contest his gating of the road. French said the only impacted property owner along the road was in favor of French installing a gate, to keep trespassers off his property as well. 

Road supervisor Jason Carroll said the only time the road has been maintained by the county is when there has been need to gravel the road for funeral access to the cemetery found on the property. Malone reminded French that even if the road is removed from the county system that reasonable access to the cemetery has to be provided. 

The court moved to begin the process of removing both roads from the county system. 

The court picked the COVID quarantine policy for the road department back up right where they left off in their last special meeting, but after nearly an hour of discussion and debate was no closer to a decision. They moved to continue paying employees who were quarantined due to COVID exposure as long as there is potential for reimbursement, as part of a policy which has been extended through the end of next month. County attorney Brian Bayes said that the policy under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act allows the county to continue paying while requesting reimbursement at least through the end of March. 

Malone suggested policies to continue encouraging social isolation, such as paying mileage for any employee driving their own car to a work site, rather than riding together in a company truck. 

Carroll, however, said he would rather have employees driving together while masked than drive separately. He worried about the eventual cost to the county as well as the logistics of finding parking for the numerous vehicles. He also said there are some cases, such as road work undertaken in inclement weather, where it would be more dangerous to have one vehicle following another than to have two individuals, properly masked, driving together in one vehicle. 

In other action fiscal court accepted department reports and discussed the possibility of the detention center housing inmates from neighboring Lewis County, whose jail is insufficient to meet the county’s needs. Housing inmates from a neighboring county could help supplement the jail’s income stream, which has fallen during the pandemic as federal inmates are moved less frequently and the jail has missed out on the renewal of those federal contracts. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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