Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 9, 2016

County discusses re-stopping road paving again

The on-again, off-again county project to pave Braswell Road may soon be off again.

On Wednesday, commissioners got an update on the project, which has been controversial because Braswell Road is the home of Commissioner Harold Elmore.

According to Star-News archives, paving of the road was approved in September of 2012, before the current commission took office in November of that year. Elmore was then serving the second of his three terms. The original motion, but then-Commissioner Bragg Carter, was for the county to do site prep work and a portion of the contract to be contracted. Then-Commissioners David Ellis seconded the motion, which was unanimously approved. Elmore did not abstain.

See related story: Are paved roads for commissioners only?

But after the current commission was installed, Chairman Bill Godwin asked that work on new roads be halted until the new commissioners got a handle on the budget. A motion to halt Braswell Road and other projects passed 3-2 when Godwin voted to break a tie.

Work was reinstated in March of 2013 after a group of 20 people attended a meeting asking that it be continued. Commissioners agreed then to complete the project, but said it would not be the county’s top priority.

The work has not been completed, and completing it is expected to cost an additional $225,000. County engineer Lynn Ralls said wet weather and the demands to have crews in other parts of the county have delayed the project. Completing the portion that has been started would cost about $15,000, he said.

Commissioners expressed concern that so much money is being spent on a not-very-populated road.

“If we’ve got any money to spend, we need to work on Prestwood Bridge Road,” Commissioner Joe Barton said. “I had a bus driver call me and say the bus shook so much the ceiling fell out. If you were to shake a child like that, Sheriff Meeks would put you in the jail.”

Commissioner Bill Godwin said members of the public who can’t get their roads maintained feel as if preference is being given to roads on which commissioners live.

Commissioner Kyle Adams, who just took office last month, said the resources should be spread out.

“We shouldn’t be voting on a road we live on. We should put the citizens’ first.”

Elmore, who did not seek reelection and will leave office in the fall, listened quietly before responding.

“This is the third crew had on this road since we started,” he said. “You never heard me say a word.”

Elmore said landowners gave right-of-way and cooperated the construction, and the county needed to do its part.

He said previous commissioners had roads paved when the county operated on a district system.

“The commissioners was in charge of that district,” he said. “You could make that decision to pave a road, whether it run by your church or whatever.”

No action was taken on the issue in the workshop meeting, but it is expected to be on the agenda at the June 15th meeting.