Shelby County's Billy Askins did not get what he sought from Shelby County government.
But, he said, that is fine with him after watching the vetting process of county commissioners, listening to concerns of neighbors and hearing officials discuss the pros and cons of his request to have parts of two county roads abandoned.
Three weeks of consideration by the Shelby County Commissioners' Court on a request to have parts of county roads 4778 and 4763 abandoned ended with a decision not to allow the abandonment.
Askins sought permission for the county to abandon 0.954 miles of CR 4778 and 0.263 miles of CR 4763 in Precinct 4. His request was initially on the agenda of the Dec. 4 meeting of the commissioners' court.
“We have a little county road that goes down to our family farm,” Askins said at that meeting. He said concerns over illegal dumping of trash and animal carcasses, along with what is suspected to be illicit drug activity on the stretches of the lightly used road, prompted his family's request.
“We have all the land on each side of the road up to the Lake Timpson Road, FM 2667, with the exception of just a touch right there at the beginning of 4778,” he said. “We have two bridges on that road, and I don't know why bridges attract people, but they're constantly throwing trash.”
Askins said land owners notice a lot of vehicles on the road which do not belong to anyone who lives in the immediate area.
“We would ask if you all would possibly consider closing the road and making a private road out of it,” he said, with the landowners taking over upkeep and maintenance. Another issue in the request is the condition of bridges on the roads.
Pct. 4 Commissioner Tom Bellmyer said one of the bridges failed and needs as much as $40,000 in repairs while another bridge needs repairs too.
“The smaller of the two bridges failed,” Bellmyer said. That section has been closed pending repairs, he said.
Bellmyer said while the roads are in his precinct, consideration of closing the roads needs to go through a process according to the transportation code.
“Whether we do repair the bridge or don't, it is not for me to do, it's a process we go through to serve the community,” he said. Closing the road would limit access to the through road only to to U.S. 59 where the road comes out near Smith Saw Mill Services.
“One of the things I'd like to do is talk to the postal delivery, the first responders out of Timpson and the Sheriff's Department …. I want to make sure that everyone affected, not only the neighborhood right there where you live, but all the services provided in that area to voice if they have an issue or opposition, I'd like for them to at least have the opportunity to express that.”
Bellmyer said he also had a discussion with the school district operating school buses in the area.
The issue was placed on the agenda for the Dec. 11 meeting of the commissioners' court but again tabled. At the Dec. 18 meeting the issue was again on the court's agenda with several residents appearing to ask the commissioners not to allow the abandonment and to leave the roads as county roads.
Lane Barton said he does not live in the immediate area but has business interest there. Leaving the roads open to the public would be in the best interest of property owners.
Several others showed up to also express their desire to have the roads remain county owned.
Bellmyer said his decision to keep the roads open and as county operated roads was based on public input on the issue. He said the bridges would be repaired and put back into service while he is requesting more patrols by the sheriff's office and constables and he is also planning to have “no dumping” signs installed.
“Right now I don't have a timeline for the rebuild of the bridge,” Bellmyer said, but he hopes to get the contractor focused on the project as soon as possible.
Askins offered Bellmyer and the commissioners thanks for considering the request.
“I thank you all for your professional actions and I'm impressed with the commissioners' meetings,” Askins said. “This is the way government is supposed to work.”