February 19, 2013 9:57:48 AM
Jeff Clark - [email protected]
A new ad hoc committee formed by the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors has been charged with finding the 10 worst roads in the county.
The committee will present its findings to the supervisors in an effort to have some or all of the roads repaired. Committee members include road manager Ronnie Burns, County Administrator Ralph Billingsley, county engineer Bob Calvert and the road managers for each of the five districts.
"I was opposed to putting supervisors on the committee because we certainly don't need politics playing a role in which roads should be repaired," District 1 Supervisor and board president Harry Sanders said. "This is just an advisory committee. The board will make the final decisions. I think it's a good idea to address the problem, but our problem is we don't have enough money to pave all of these roads."
The county allocates $1.6 million for roads each year. The money is spread among five districts and is used to maintain the road department and the day-to-day wear and tear on the roads such as patching potholes.
District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith, who suggested the formation of the committee, agreed with Sanders on the lack of funding but said his intentions are for the county as a whole.
"I can talk about what I want to see in my district, but this is about the entire county," Smith said. "Some (of the supervisors) say that I'm only concerned about my district but I want what's best for everyone. This is no reflection on our road department. We do not have enough money to do what we need."
One of the roads that is contentious between Sanders and Smith is South Lehmberg Road, which is shared between Smith and District 3 Supervisor John Holliman. While Sanders said the road is one of the most-traveled in the county and should be paved immediately, Smith disagrees.
"John and I cannot afford to repave Lehmberg Road even if we combined our road monies," Smith said. "We are going to try and get it declared a state-aid road which means the state would pay for the repairs."
The committee will provide its findings on June 15 so the board can allocate the paving money in the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.
"I'm going to be proactive and have weekly meetings with the road manager," Smith said. "I want to stay on top of this and make sure that something gets done."
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